Citizens' Issues
Medicine for unwanted SMS more poisonous than the disease

The regulation enforced by TRAI to curb pesky messages or calls sounds very good on paper. Unfortunately, the broad categorisation under which a subscriber can receive such SMS messages may be misused by telemarketers

Shakuntala Chavan was very happy that from 27th September onwards, no one would call or send an SMS to her and offer a free credit card, free ticket or home loan. However, as the regulation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) came into force, Shakuntala is in a dilemma whether to opt for a blanket ban or partial ban on pesky calls and SMSs. Shakuntala's case is not an isolated one. Almost every mobile subscriber is facing the same Catch-22 situation.

If a subscriber opts for complete ban on all unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) or pesky or marketing calls and SMSs, he will even be barred from receiving alerts from his bank. In case he decides to allow his bank to send UCC, then there is no guarantee that other banks or institutions falling under this particular category would leave him alone.

Telemarketers and many companies, including e-commerce sites like Flipkart, have sent messages to their customers informing them that if they wish to stop or continue receiving updates, then they have to re-register to a category under which the website falls. Flipkart has asked its customers to send an SMS "START 5" or "STOP" to 1909, for the option of receiving or not receiving messages from it.

What is interesting is that the numeric '5' mentioned above belongs to the consumer goods and automobiles category. This also means that if you want to receive messages from Flipkart, then you need to keep your doors open to receive UCC from other companies, which fall in the same category as well. This is still okay, but in case of the numeric '1', subscribers do not seem to get a reprieve. The first category belongs to banking, insurance, financial products and credit cards. This means, if you want to receive messages from your bank then you need to be prepared to accept calls or messages for credit cards or insurance as well!

There are seven such categories. Accordingly, to stop or to continue getting SMSs for financial products, the number is '1' followed by or preceded by START or STOP respectively; it is '2' (with the same options) for real estate; '3' for education; '4' for health; '5' for consumer goods & automobiles; '6' for communications/ broadcasting and entertainment and '7' for tourism & leisure. The subscriber can also opt for a complete or blanket ban and would not receive any UCC in whatsoever form.

"I am a regular buyer from Flipkart. I always get the status of the payment made and the shipment from the company through SMS. And I wish to continue such a service. But if I allow consumer goods promotional messages to be received, I am sure everyone else along with Flipkart will flood my message box with unwanted offers," says Alok Kumar, salesperson (name and profession changed on request) with a consumer durables company.

Telecom service providers were supposed to have started sending detailed messages to their subscribers. However, users reported today that only Airtel has sent out such an informative message.

Surprisingly, many subscribers who tired to reply to such messages by giving a space between 'START' and '0', found that their request was not accepted. However, when the same message was sent without any space between 'START' and '0', it worked. Sudhir Badami, Mumbai-based transport expert, told Moneylife, "I noticed that these SMSs showed no space between 'START' and the number. I tried START0 (without a space) instead of START 0 tried at first. This worked."

Now how would an average user know that this is the case?

Subscribers also complain that they continue to get such unwanted promotional messages on their mobile phone, despite the TRAI diktat. "This morning I got three messages on various offers. Interestingly, the messages are with random numbers as subject lines, as compared to product names provided earlier," says P Jadhav, research analyst.

TRAI, following concerns raised by telecom lobby Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) on limiting the SMS entitlement to 100 per day, exempted various service providers today from this stipulation (See: TRAI clears SMS confusion; exempts certain services ). This includes dealers of telecom operators and DTH (direct-to-home) operators, e-ticketing agencies, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, LinkedIn and GooglePlus and directory services providers like Justdial, Zatse, Callezee, Getit and Askme, said TRAI in a notification issued on Tuesday.

Late evening on Tuesday, the telecom watchdog said that it is also planning to impose a five paise termination charge per SMS from 15th October on service providers on whose network commercial SMSs originate, to make it further difficult for those who broadcast millions of SMSs in a day.

"We are actively considering and we are likely to issue a regulation by 15th October to impose five paise termination charge on commercial SMS, and not on general SMS," TRAI chairman JS Sarma said at an event held at New Delhi.

A few operators charge up to 15 paise per SMS as termination fee on mutual agreements, but the same is not mandatory. The proposed TRAI directive will make it mandatory for all operators to charge termination fee for commercial SMSs, at least.

"We have issued a direction exempting certain categories from limitation of 100 SMSs per day. If genuine cases come to us, we will accept their request and exempt (them) from some clauses. People need to inform us," Mr Sarma told the media confirming TRAI's earlier directive today.

He added that on festival days there will be no limitation on the number of SMSs that can be send out from a single SIM. Meanwhile, the government today launched the 'Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulation', which plans to give users across the country respite from pesky calls and SMSs. However, the implementation of these directives looks like a tough task for the regulator.

You may also want to read:

1)    Telemarketers flood subscribers with messages before the implementation of new TRAI rule banning bulk SMS transmission




6 years ago

I fully agree with moneylife. In fact whole DND regulation should not be applicable to the entities, where customer has subscribed for such messages. Especially the messages from banks and creditcard companies to their customers. It can be anything and this should not applicable if SMS is sent to their customers.

India-targeted M&A deals worth $39 billion so far this year: Dealogic

As per Dealogic, despite ranking among the top 3 locations for M&A deals in the January-September 2011 period, India was also the country that witnessed the maximum decline in the combined value of M&A deals

New Delhi: The value of India-focused merger and acquisition (M&A) deals touched $39 billion in the first nine months of this year, a significant 31% decline over the corresponding period last year, reports PTI quoting global deal tracking firm Dealogic.

According to Dealogic, "India-targeted volumes (value) totalled $39 billion in the first nine months of 2011, down 31% from $56.1 billion on the same period of 2010."

As per Dealogic, despite ranking among the top 3 locations for M&A deals in the January-September 2011 period, India was also the country that witnessed the maximum decline in the combined value of M&A deals.

The combined value of M&A deals in the third quarter was just $4.7 billion, the lowest since the second quarter of 2005, when the deal value stood at $4.1 billion.

Meanwhile, despite a 12% dip in the third quarter, the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) region witnessed M&A deals with the highest combined value for a nine-month period on record, at $406.1 billion in 2011, up 13% in comparison to the year-ago period.

India was the third-most targeted nation in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for M&A deals worth $39 billion, behind China ($134.7 billion) and Australia ($104.9 billion), Dealogic said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the nations that witnessed a slump in deal activity in the nine-month period include India (down 31%), Malaysia (15%) and Singapore (4%).

A sector-wise analysis of the Asia-Pacific shows that real estate witnessed the biggest M&A deals in terms of their combined value during the period-at $48.9 billion-followed by mining ($48.3 billion) and finance ($42.5 billion), the report said.

"The $12.4 billion bid for Foster's Group by SABMiller was the largest deal in the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) in the first nine months of 2011 and is the only over $10 billion food & beverage deal on record in the region," Dealogic added.

Meanwhile, the value of M&A deals worldwide totalled $2.15 trillion during the first nine months of 2011, a 7% rise compared to the year-ago period.

The value of global M&A deals in the January-September period witnessed an increase despite the fact that their combined worth in the third quarter was just $599 billion, down 23% compared to $783 billion in the third quarter of 2010.

The value of global M&A deals in the third quarter is the lowest since the second quarter of 2010, when it stood at $592.9 billion, Dealogic said.


Investors lost money in 85% of GDRs issued in 2010 says recent study

Investments in GDRs have delivered negative 52% average return on investment. Information technology, media and consumer staples companies were the major underperformers. Last year GDRs were a good option due to rising local markets, this year this route seems to have soured for global investors

According to a report released today by one of the largest research houses in India, out of 40 global depository receipts (GDRs) issued by Indian companies in 2010, investors have lost money in 85% of the issues, with four out of five issues giving a negative return of 35% or more. As on 15th September, the average return on investment (a measurement of the difference in the offer price and the market price) by all the GDRs issued in 2010 was a negative 52%. The underperformance is significant when compared to the average return of a negative 7% by the S&P CNX 500 during the same period. The report was released by CRISIL Research today.

Indian companies have been the most active GDR issuers, accounting for about 68% of the total listed GDRs on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange as of December 2010. During 2010, Indian companies, predominantly small- and mid-cap companies, raised around Rs5,680 crore ($1.20 billion) through the GDR route.

According to Tarun Bhatia, director, Capital Markets, CRISIL Research, "Companies generally prefer the GDR route for fund-raising when the global sentiment for emerging markets is strong. During 2010, many Indian companies were able to attract foreign investors through the GDR route given the performance of equity markets and the strong domestic growth rate of over 8%. Further, lower disclosure norms on end-use of funds make fund-raising through GDRs comparatively easier for domestic companies."

CRISIL Research analysis further reflects that, in absolute terms, the market value of the funds mobilised through GDRs has eroded by about 47% (difference between capital mobilised and current market value) to Rs3,030 crore ($0.6 billion), with most GDRs trading 40%-60% below their offer price. In percentage terms, Teledata Technology Solutions' GDR is the worst performer with its price on 15th September trading 93% below the offer price. On the other hand, Rainbow Papers Ltd's issue has been the best performer with its price trading 148% higher than the offer price.

However, the number of GDRs issued in 2011 has slowed down. Just 12 Indian companies have raised Rs940 crore ($0.20 billion) through GDRs during 2011, as compared to 34 companies that raised Rs4,510 crore ($1 billion) during the corresponding period in 2010.

Chetan Majithia, head, CRISIL Research added in the report, "Volatility and weak performance of Indian equity markets in 2011 have damped investor sentiments. This coupled with the weak performance of the past GDRs has made them less attractive to foreign investors."




6 years ago

This shows markets have its own direction, experts, analysis, charts, research etc., cannot correctly assess the markets. Markets are supreme and it will find its own directions. As an investor one should take decision basing on his personnel postion duly focussing on the safty of capital.

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