The 140 Series Marketing Calls Menace: A Real Experience!

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Just by seeing the title many of you would be able to guess what this post is about - yes, it is about the marketing calls Indian mobile subscribers receive from 140 number series. On a daily basis most of us (particularly those of us who are not on DND) keep receiving marketing calls and most of them originate either from our service providers or the notorious 140 series. Many mobile phone users are aware of this series and either reject the calls or have blocked such calls. I am writing this post to share my experience where I was literally harassed by a tele marketer who called me innumerable number of times for no reason! :(

My Experience

Normally when I receive marketing calls of any nature, I tell them that I am not interested in whatsoever they are trying to sell and suggest them to stop calling me. Most of them understand and stop pestering me. In case they call me again I warn them that they can land in trouble as I will be complaining against them for this. With this the calls would stop. Three days ago something different happened.

12 Feb. 2014 - I received a call from a person who introduced himself as Mr. Rajkumar from +911409450019. After verifying my name, he claimed to be calling from my bank (ING Vysya) and wanted to sell me a beneficial product. I went ahead with my usual response and he disconnected.

13 Feb. 2014 - I receive the call from same number at around 9.45 AM, he introduced himself as Mr. Raj this time. I reminded him about my previous answer and asked him to stop calling. The call got disconnected but he again called me in few minutes. This time he informed me that he is calling me as I was chosen for the plan and I must consider that as a privilege. The plan would be beneficial for my family's security and went on to say "Sir, please take the plan". Readers, please note that I don't believe in wasting some caller's time and hence do not bother to ask them what the plan is all about. I warned him that I will complain against him with the bank and he might land in trouble for disturbing me. This probably irked him and he started calling me repeatedly. If I left the call unanswered he would call me as soon as the ring stopped.

On a parallel note I escalated the complaint on ING Vysya's social media channels. I had to write tough as a similar complaint (for two calls though) which was done earlier in the week were not answered by them. Based on my request they added my mobile number to their internal DND in few hours.

Even after receiving the confirmation email this guy continued calling me at hourly intervals. I answered the phone but didn't speak! Later I decided to talk and then I was puzzled by his attitude - he introduced himself as Chethan! On asking him you were Raj till today morning, he said he can be someone else tomorrow. The phone number and voice were always same! Instead of talking about 'plan' this time, he informed me that he is the complaining authority and is calling me based on my complaint. He wanted to know the name of the person, nature of complaint etc. Outrageous, I felt! On a funny note I told him that he would hear from his superiors and the complaint is about he calling me and I prefer reply by email. I don't know how he took it, but he called me 20 times non-stop (in less than 3 minutes). Assuming that he would be answerable to his superiors at the end of the day, I answered the calls and put the microphone on mute. After some 30 minute gap came another blast of 10 calls. I continued the same tactic and it was 6.30 PM then. In total I received approximately 50 calls in this two day period.

Later that evening, I installed a call blocker app and set it to answer and hangup calls originating from entire +91140 series. I set it to answer and hangup as I am still under the impression that the caller would be accountable at some point in time for making innumerable short duration calls and bringing in no customer.

14 Feb. 2014 - He probably wanted to continue troubling me but app did its job perfect - answer and hangup without even alerting me. He stopped after two times and didn't call me thereafter. Probably those people can make out automated techniques as software responds in seconds to answer and hangup any call unlike manual answering.

What did I learn?

  1. When I listened to call few times amidst that bombardment, the system played an ICICI Lombard ad (where this guy chose not to speak). This made me think that major private banks have outsourced their marketing efforts to one single telemarketing service provider and probably do not have much control over (or do not bother to control) how things are handled by them. Whatever be the case, the brand names will take a hit with this.
  2. The callers are pretty confident that they can't be traced easily. This makes them trouble people like how this person Raj did to me. Raj could again be a fake name! Sample this case at Jagoinvestor:fake_irda
  3. TRAI has earmarked numbers starting with '140' specially for telemarketing. This was done to ensure that customers not registered with NCPR can also identify the commercial calls. While identifying is one thing, the receiver would be put off guard if a caller tries to abuse the system by bombarding someone with numerous calls at once.
  4. Finally, I decided that it's time for me to be on NCPR DND and I have initiated the process. The main reason why I chose not to register for DND is I don't mind receiving few calls. I could manage them well and BSNL customers anywhere would say that they receive the least number of marketing calls when compared to customers of private operators. Don't know why this is the case but it is a fact.

It would have been great if TRAI provided a directory to trace the origin of a marketing call. When BSNL landline numbers can be searched online why not of the telemarketers. After all they are doing a good job in spoiling a mobile user's day! I am certainly interested to forward this experience to the company(?) who handles this kind of contracts so that they can attempt to discipline(??) their executives! Any leads regarding this would be greatly appreciated.

By the way readers, did you face any similar or worser experience with regard to unsolicited telemarketing calls? Please let us know through comments.

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