Have you ever felt the stress of not being able to say no when you so want to? Ohho, don’t let your nasty mind wander. I’m referring to that awkward feeling where a simple, blunt ‘No’ would have saved you needless stress, but there’s stress in even blurting that simple, blunt two letter word.
I feel this each time when, while shopping, the person at the payment counter says, ‘Would you like to share your mobile number?’ No, wait, let me correct myself. All they simply say is ‘Mobile number?’, while looking at the computer screen with the intensity of a nuclear scientist. Well, I don’t want to give mine. But, the last time I said this at a rather crowded high street fashion store, the guy at the counter said ‘Ma’am, it’s just for our records.’ “No, let it be,” I persisted. ‘Ma’am, it’s needed for making the bill.’ I know for a fact that as per law, his store could absolutely not mandate it that I provide my phone number for billing purposes. But by this time, the people in the queue behind me were getting impatient and I ended up blurting out a mobile number. A mobile number, mind you. Main bhi Dilli ki Punjabi hoon, jugaad pe toh life chal rahi hai. So I’ve made this rule to give my mobile number with the last digit increased by one. That way I don’t even forget what number I gave if anyone were to ask me to repeat it. Alright, don’t give me that look. I know it’s unfair to the poor person jiska number is different to mine by just the last digit. But mere saath kaunsi fair cheez ho rahi hai. Ok, won’t do it from now on. Will figure out some other jugaad. But hey, the problem is real, ain’t it?
Do you easily agree to sharing your cell number while shopping? If you do…why, why why? Look, I’m not referring to situations where you give out your number to identify yourself as a member of their lucky-you-are-alive-and-can-afford-to-shop-with-us club or something. I mean at those stores where you are buying just a roll of toilet paper and paying cash for it. Wahan bhi mobile number maangte hain aaj kal. And it’s not long before your phone is flooded with advertisement SMSs where you are offered everything from a 3BHK flat on the highway to pills that’ll enlarge flat b***s in flat seven days. Nahi chahiye yaar. I signed up three years back for something called a ‘Do not Disturb’ registry started by the Government. Aaj tak neither have they understood the meaning of the phrase, nor has the polite girl who tries to sell me an insurance policy every Wednesday religiously for the past two years. When I discussed this with a friend who specialises in consumer rights law, he told me that when I give my mobile number willingly to a store or at a website, their promotional messages automatically bypass my right to not be disturbed. Socho, socho how much my shopping is disturbing the guy whose mobile number I give everywhere. And …ahem… the messages I get also tell me that whoever is giving my mobile number at the stores isn’t exactly saving up for old age either. So what do we do? In the interest of the nation which has not wanted to know anything since Arnab quit, I have compiled the following tips:
■ Dial 1909 from your mobile number and do what the lovely voice at the other end tells you to. When it comes to choosing between ‘partial block’ and ‘full block’, choose the latter. Don’t worry, it’ll not block mom-in-law’s calls (you wish!). This is just to ensure that you are formally registered with TRAI’s DND. Jis Jis ney DND ko Do not Disturb ki jagah Delhi Noida Direct samjha, raise your left hand and make it land with some force on your left cheek. For those who are curious, a partial block allows you to choose if you want calls from telemarketers from the insurance/credit cards/real estate companies. Those who want these calls, raise your right hand and repeat the instructions, with the left cheek changed to right.
■ Now that you are registered under DND, if you still get pesky calls/messages from those you don’t wish to hear from, you can lodge a complaint by send an SMS in this format: COMP TEL NO XXXXXXXXXX; dd/mm/yy;hh:mm; short description to 1909. Here, XXXXXXXXXX is the number from which you have received the unsolicited promotional message or the sender code (in case of bulk SMS without a number). The next two are date and time at which you received the unsolicited message or call. At the end, add a short description of the call you received. e.g. COMP TEL NO 9800000XXXX; 12/02/17; 16:45; DieLate Insurance Ltd about insuring my left jaw.
■ The telecom operator is liable to take action and respond to your complaint. If they don’t, you can call them and listen to half an hour of Mozart’s 25th symphony which is their new gift as you hold the call. C’mon, learn to be thankful…it’s toll free.
■ Haan, for the shopping related thing that I started out with. Do know that it’s absolutely your right to refuse to share your mobile number at any store if you don’t wish to. Any means any. If a fancy girl at a fancy store asks for your number in a fancy accent…even then. It’s their job to ask, it’s your right to refuse.
■ As per the law, even e-shopping websites can’t force you to share personal data other than what’s necessary for processing the order, but a lot of websites don’t let you proceed if you leave the mobile number field blank. You can choose to report such websites. Or else fill up just about any number in it, but then jiska number unintentionally de doge, uski kaafi baddua lagne ka chance hai. That’ll be uncool.
■ If you are the nicest person in the universe, have Raja Harishchandra in direct line of ancestry, and therefore can’t resist sharing your mobile number each time someone asks you, take heart. There are free apps that claim to block promotional messages. Now I’m not sure if the same apps won’t end up selling your details to telemarketing companies. India hai. Kuchh bhi chalta hai.
Sonal Kalra has decided to buy everything that’s offered to her via promotional messages. Feel free to borrow an entire range of home furniture, plus sized lingerie or any of the 2BHK apartments she owns on all highways in India. Good deeds always pay in the end. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.