By Rakesh Raman
I’m not rich, but they want to sell a luxury apartment to me. I’m not bald, but they want to grow hair on my head. I’m as fit as Tom Cruise, but they want to sell a herbal remedy to control my obesity. This goes on and on.
Friends, I’m not writing these lines to win a literary award or something. Rather, this is the true expression of my pains that I buy from Airtel, which claims to be India’s leading mobile service provider.
I get all these utterly useless messages and calls on my mobile phone day in and day out. And Airtel is a part of this menacing racket, as it’s allowing these unscrupulous elements to use its networks to disturb consumers like me.
They chase me in my bathroom when I’m taking bath, in my bed when I’m sleeping, in my study room when I’m studying, and even in the hospital when I’m sick.
Unfortunately, Airtel is leaving no stone unturned to make a fast buck from these so-called mobile marketers who are trespassing and depriving consumers of their peace.
After years of annoyance, disturbance, and pain, of late, I approached Airtel with my grievances related to unsolicited calls and messages that I get on my mobile. I was told by the Airtel staff that I’m already on its Do Not Disturb (DND) list. Then why am I getting disturbed?
When I asked this from Airtel, I got such a ridiculous response that even a dead body will get up and laugh on it. Airtel told me that my mobile number is listed on DND list, but all mischievous sellers can still disturb me.
Then how do I get rid of them? To this, Airtel had an even funnier suggestion. They asked me to compile the details (description of promotion, telemarketer’s phone number, date, time, etc.) of all such naughty senders and keep sending it to Airtel. That means, if I get a dozen such messages and calls a day, I should systematically record all of them, and send it to Airtel.
That further means, I should forget all other work that I do as my job and fully devote my time to complete Airtel’s work like a bonded labourer. Sad.
Believe me, I was not angry with Airtel’s naive response to check this mobile spam (m-spam) menace because I know that such mass-service companies are full of duffers. Airtel people who interacted with me with the pretext of solving my problem were never willing to listen to me. They kept telling me that they follow only this process even when I told them that their process is flawed.
I suggested them to overcome this problem by making a mobile app allowing consumers to instantly report about spam like we do with spam emails. I suggested them how Airtel can leverage legal system to punish the culprits. I also told them to take the help of government-controlled watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to curb the immoral m-spam practice.
But the Airtel staff turned a deaf ear to all my suggestions and gave me an impression that I’m talking to dumb statues. And I was, because the level of spam has perhaps increased on my mobile while Airtel staff is sleeping and snoring; and I’m spending disturbing days and sleepless nights.
Recently, when I was interviewing Michael O’Hara of GSMA (an association of global mobile operators), he informed about the GSMA Spam Reporting Service that provides a worldwide clearinghouse of messaging threats and misuse that have been reported by mobile users.
But it seems that Airtel does not want to learn from all such meaningful measures because it has gone totally blind with its greed to make money by hook or by crook. It’s playing with the interests of its own customers like me. While the whole world says customer is king, Airtel is treating me like a beggar or perhaps like a slave who can be disturbed anytime of day or night.
In this dirty game, the mobile spammers are not the only culprits, mobile operators like Airtel and TRAI or other government agencies are also part of this organized crime. There seems to be strong nexus among these potential beneficiaries of this commercial racket.
They should all be punished in the strictest possible manner. But it won’t happen and the commoners like me will continue to suffer because India is a country of the crooks, by the crooks, and for the crooks.
Here crooks thrive and ordinary people like me find it difficult to survive. Alas, it’s my destiny. And I should always be prepared for the harassment to which I’m pushed by the crooks. Perhaps, only God can save me from this predicament.
Hey God, if you exist, give some wisdom to Airtel so the leading mobile service provider could stop behaving like a mobile suffering provider. Will my prayer be heard?
By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Digital.