Vodafone asked to pay doctor Rs 30K for pesky calls

Taking cognisance of the complaint lodged by a doctor against telecom giant Vodafone for receiving calls from telemarketers despite subscribing to its ‘do not call’ scheme, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission fined Vodafone additional Rs 10,000 for appealing against the district court’s order which had earlier directed the firm to pay the complainant Rs 20,000.

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The bench of President SR Khanzode and Dhanraj Khamatkar observed, “Under the circumstances, they (Vodafone) failed to discharge their obligation under the said regulations... they acted with imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the nature and manner of purpose, which is required to be maintained by them under the regulations.” The commission on May 10 ordered Vodafone to pay another Rs 10,000 to Dr Ashish Gala.

Gala, a resident of Mulund (W), wrote to Vodafone on August 30, 2008, complaining that he was being repeatedly bothered by calls from different numbers of a bank.

The Vodafone representative then asked for particulars of the numbers from which Gala was receiving calls and the content of their conversations, which were provided on September 2, 2008. The firm replied to Gala on the same day via email.

In its appeal against the district court order, Vodafone officials contended that there was no ‘positive obligation’ on the company’s part to stop unsolicited telephone calls under the Telecom and Solicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007. Neither was there an obligation under the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India, which acknowledged that there was no way to entirely stop such calls.

The officials argued that Gala was supposed to complain within 15 days after receiving the calls. Since Gala’s complaint letter with respect to calls made on July 31, 2007 at 3.33 pm, August 2, 2007 at 5.10 pm and February 19, 2008 at 5.59 pm was written in August, they were not obliged to stop such calls.

The district court observed, “It is not (Vodafone’s) case that since the 15-day period was over, in respect of the information supplied, their data was destroyed and they could not trace the originating assessed provider for taking further action... after furnishing (this) information, no further action is taken by Vodafone.”

On October 14, 2011, the court ordered Vodafone to pay Gala Rs 20,000 as compensation for mental agony, and a fine of Rs 5,000 for the litigation.

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