Indian call centres to comply with US list
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Indian call centres to comply with US list

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 26 September 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE / NEW DELHI: Despite a favourable US court ruling on the "do-not-call" registry, Indian call centres are not letting their guard down, according to a report published in Economic Times.

Major BPO operators here are preparing to comply with the Federal Trade Commission's "do-not-call" registry that allowed American consumers to sign up for the do-not-call list and remain free from unsolicited telemarketing calls.

The court decision overturned FTC rules that bar telemarketers from calling any consumer who enrolled in the registry. The court said the FTC acted without authorisation from Congress. (Is this a victory for India?)

Call centres feel the regulation would eventually make its way through the legal muddle and are not allowing the ruling to lull them into a feeling of false security.

The Federal Communication Commission has said it will work closely with the FTC and Congress to ensure that the do-not-call registry becomes a reality and American consumers can control the calls that come into their homes.

"Congress, the FCC and the FTC have all been in agreement about the need to give consumers the opportunity to choose to prevent intrusions from unwanted telemarketing telephone calls. The do-not-call list is an appropriate mechanism to accomplish this task," an FCC statement said.

Prakash Gurbaxani, chief executive officer, Transworks, said the company was preparing to comply with the national registry. "There are some mis-conceptions about this national call registry. Operators already have a list of numbers they are barred from calling. This just made it easier for Americans to be put on a nation-wide list," he explained.

The list, however, has many loopholes. For instance, companies are allowed to call existing customers to sell them new products.

Most operators have incorporated the FTC list on to their systems. Cold calls itself are said to constitute only 25 per cent of Fortune 500 companies. Call centre managers agree that the real impact of the list will be seen post-October 1, and the effect on businesses will be apparent only in the next quarter.

"My sense is that it will eventually get implemented," said Vaibhav Tewari, CEO of iSeva, a Bangalore-based contact centre. "There is a segment of society that doesnÂ’t want these calls. But it may be a better idea to have an industry regulation to monitor this," he added. However, iseva may profit a little in the short term, with 10 per cent of its revenues coming from outbound calls, he admitted.

Over 50 million US consumers have reportedly signed up for the list.

Along with establishing the registry, the rules also prevented telemarketers from use of automated dialers that abandoned calls before consumers could answer them. Telemarketers were also barred from charging consumers for goods or services based on previously acquired information about the consumer's account.

Recently, six Hyderabad-based call centres had to shut shop after a major drop in business as most American consumers did not take kindly to unsolicited tele-sales calls.

However, a senior executive from Nasscom, association of Indian software companies, said that too much was being made out of the do-not-call rule. According to Nasscom estimates, not more than 5 per cent of BPO jobs in India depended on cold and unsolicited calls to clients and that large majority of Indian companies service regular clients. (Source: ET)



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