Tata Teleservices ignores scamsters using its SMS services to offer bumper lotteries
Mobile phone users have, for a long time now, suffered the scourge of unsolicited calls/SMSs. Recently, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was interrupted during a debate in Parliament by one of these calls. But today, ingenious Nigerian scamsters have also started using SMSs to dupe gullible phone users through fraudulent bumper lotteries.
One Moneylife reader shared with us this experience. “I received an SMS from TD-demo account informing that I had won £50,000 in a lottery. I know this is a scam. Many of my friends have received such an SMS. After searching on the Internet, I found that many others have received similar messages from a TD account. TD is the operator code for Tata Teleservices, Delhi. I believe the Tata Tele account is being misused to send SMSs for scam activities. I have complained to Tata Teleservices on their website and also sent an email to the Cyber Cell of the Mumbai Police to take action against the account holder.”
As the SMS originates from the Tata Teleservices’ account, the operator would have a record that could help trace the culprits. A Tata Teleservices spokesperson advised that we send them the details so they could make inquiries.
The spokesperson described SMS marketing and spam as two different issues, saying, “SMS marketing is completely within the regulatory provisions set out by the authorities. Furthermore, if it is creating any trouble for any customer, it is the responsibility of each operator to protect its subscribers from unsolicited calls and SMSs under the DND (Do Not Disturb) provision.” However, the spokesperson did not say what measures Tata Teleservices was taking to stop the misuse of its services.
Only the other day, Mr Mukherjee was in the middle of a discussion in Parliament when he received a call on his mobile phone, with the caller offering him a loan. The minister was understandably irritated. The Indian government subsequently advised telecom operators to ban such unnecessary marketing calls and messages to mobile phones. The direction against unsolicited calls was issued through notices by the Supreme Court to companies such as Bharti Airtel, COAI and ICICI Bank and American Express.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also imposed a financial disincentive on eight service providers for non-compliance under the Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulation, 2007. These companies are Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Spice, BPL, MTNL and Aircel.
But this hasn’t helped, yet, to curb the harassment suffered by mobile phone users due to unsolicited commercial communication. (This is the term the TRAI uses for unwanted calls/SMSs.) For, it seems that the mobile phone operators are more interested in earning revenues.
The Tata Teleservices spokesperson told Moneylife, “Indian telecom operators have received acclaim for reworking the costs of telecom to reach out to the masses, and for becoming a driver of economic growth. A farmer in a village, or a fisherman, is today happy to receive SMSs about crop prices and information on the weather. Any other form of disbursement of information to the public would have cost a 100 times more.” There is no doubt about the benefits of telecommunications. But that doesn’t allow operators to flood customers’ handsets with unwanted, unnecessary messages.
The writer is a subscriber of Tata Indicom for seven years and has also been a victim of such unwanted SMSs and calls. Complaints were made on numerous occasions to Tata Indicom’s customer care department, the nodal officer, the national services head, even managing director Anil Sardana. Each time the complaint was made, Tata Indicom called saying that an inquiry was initiated into the matter and that notices had been sent to the operators involved. The company made no mention about calls and messages originating from Tata Indicom numbers or having its tags. Then every time, the calls/SMSs resumed with a vengeance.
One proposal to curb the menace is to make mobile operators pay for each marketing call/SMS. Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of the Hindustan Times, wrote recently that the customer must be compensated for receiving these commercial calls/SMSs. He suggested a payment of Rs10 for each call/SMS to customers within the country and a minimum of Rs50 for each call/SMS on international roaming.
The Tata Teleservices spokesperson appreciated the sentiment. “SMS marketing has been there since the very inception of the industry. It is unsolicited spam that is the scourge. Being a Tata Group company, we are totally committed to help curb spam and we propose that commercial penalties be levied on operators for unsolicited spam.”
(For more information on unwanted SMS/calls read Call Stall http://www.moneylife.in/article/76/2735.html)
The real-estate market is not focusing on end-user sales, but higher valuations and raising funds through the capital market, says an independent real estate researcher
Real-estate sales fell by 50%-60% in the quarter ended June, as the market turned speculative and developers held prices in the hope that they would improve. Real-estate brokers also expect prices to rise over the next six months.
“The situation in the real-estate market is speculative. Despite falling sales and an inventory pile-up, prices are continuously rising,” said Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director, Liases Foras, a real-estate rating and research company.
“It looks like the focus is not on the consumer, but on valuations and IPOs (initial public offerings). People are looking for signs of stability in the stock market. It’s nothing but hoping and that is what is holding the prices in the property market.” Mr Kapoor suggested that the market would not undergo a correction until the hopes of the industry were fulfilled.
In a recent survey of real-estate brokers conducted by ICICI Securities, 93% of the respondents said that prices had moved up during the past three months, and 75% said they had found an increase in inquiries in the affordable segment. According to the survey, Mumbai and the National Capital Region (NCR) had seen the maximum rise in inquiries.
In the NCR, multinational real estate and property service firm Knight Frank said that an increase in consumer confidence, together with availability of various affordable housing units was the key factor driving demand for housing. During the second quarter, the NCR residential market saw the introduction of a new ‘flexi-payment’ plan for buyers and the revival of ‘EMI on possession’ scheme. The flexi-payment plan is designed along the lines of the construction-linked plan and aims to ease the liquidity pressure on buyers, an improvement over previous schemes. Knight Frank, a commercial and residential property estate agency, believes that the two schemes along with reasonably priced home loan rates, could spur the demand for housing in the NCR.
Mr Kapoor maintained that developers alone could not be held responsible for lower sales. “I feel that investors and merchant bankers are not giving them (developers) a green signal, in that investors are not too keen to buy real-estate stocks. In the last two or three IPOs, the participation of retail consumers was a low 7%-8%. The majority were institutional investors. This is an indication that there are not many buyers for realty stocks at current prices and valuations.”
During the June quarter, the Moneylife Real Estate index inched up 1% to 3,790.33 points, while the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Realty index declined by 2% to 3,196.8 points. During this period, the BSE Sensex rose marginally from 17,527.8 points to 17,701 points.
During the week that ended on 3rd September, the Indian stock markets closed marginally higher on strong global cues. With positive and supportive cues from Asian and European markets, the Indian market may witness a small rally over next week.
The market closed flat with a positive bias on the first trading day of the week on selling pressure despite strong global cues. It added marginal gains on Tuesday as trading was restricted to a narrow range. The benchmarks witnessed smart gains with the Sensex and the Nifty closing with gains of over 1.25% each on Wednesday. The upmove continued the next day but the market witnessed a bit of consolidation in the late trading session and was able to close in the green.
However, selling pressure on Friday dragged the indices into the red, despite support by its Asian and European peers.
For the week ended 3rd September, the benchmarks ended 1% higher, with the Sensex advancing 223.02 points and the Nifty adding 70.7 points.
The top Sensex gainers on a weekly basis were Bharti Airtel (up 7%), Tata Steel (up 6%), Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra) (up 5%), Maruti Suzuki India and ICICI Bank (up 4% each). The top losers on the Sensex were BHEL, Hero Honda Motors, Reliance Industries (RIL) (down 3% each), TCS (down 2%) and State Bank of India (SBI) (down 1%).
The sectoral gainers during the week were BSE Realty index and BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) index (up 3% each) while BSE Oil & Gas index (down 1%) was the sole loser during the week under review.
Driven by robust manufacturing, the Indian economy grew by 8.8% in the first quarter of this fiscal, the fastest pace in around three years, despite partial withdrawal of economic stimulus packages.
The growth numbers prompted some industry groups to forecast that the economy would revert to high expansion mode of 9% in 2010-11, after two successive years of slowdown due to the impact of the global financial meltdown.
India's industrial activity continued to moderate in August after touching record high growth levels couple of quarters ago. The seasonally adjusted HSBC-Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - a headline index designed to measure the overall health of the manufacturing sector - recorded a score of 57.25 in August against 57.6 in July.
India's exports grew by 13.2% to $16.24 billion in July compared to the same period last fiscal, posting growth for the ninth month in a row. Imports, too, jumped by 34.3% to $29.17 billion in July compared to the same month last fiscal.
During the April-July period of this fiscal, exports posted a growth rate of 30% to $68.62 billion on year-on-year basis. Imports during the April-July period grew by 33.3% to $112.2 billion.
After declining for two consecutive weeks, food inflation inched up marginally to 10.86% for the week ended 21st August, as against 10.05% during the previous week, while it was 14.86% a year ago.
Overall inflation based on wholesale prices had declined to single-digits in July at 9.97%, after being in double-digits for five months.
Maintaining their bullish stance for the third month in a row, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) made a net investment of Rs11,685 crore ($2.5 billion) in Indian equities in August.
As per the data available with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased shares worth Rs62,187.50 crore, while they offloaded equities worth Rs50,500.40 crore during August, resulting in a net investment of Rs11,687.50 crore.
With the August inflow, the total investment made by FIIs in the local stocks now stands at Rs60,447 crore ($13.1 billion) so far this year.
On the global front, US companies added more jobs than forecast in August, easing concern about the pace of the economic recovery in the world's largest economy. Private payrolls rose 67,000 after a revised 107,000 increase in July, Labor Department figures in Washington showed. The unemployment rate rose to 9.6% as more people looked for work.
The Bank of Japan expanded a bank-loan programme, enhancing up its monetary stimulus for the first time since March after the yen surged to a 15-year high and the government pressured the central bank to safeguard the recovery.
BOJ will boost the amount of funds in the facility by 10 trillion yen ($116 billion) to a total of 30 trillion yen, the bank said in a statement after an emergency meeting in Tokyo.