Since the launch of the National Do Not Call Registry service by TRAI, the amount of mobile spam has certainly gone down. However, as SMS advertising continues to be one of the cheapest modes of advertising, not to mention highly effective with its massive reach (mobile subscribers outnumber TV & PC users combined) – some marketers continue to send unsolicited (and frequently unwanted) commercial advertisements through SMS. In this post, we look at web sites (primarily e-commerce portals) which indulge in SMS spam or m-spam (intentional or otherwise).
In many cases, businesses (including online portals) explicitly ask for the user’s permission to notify them about their promotions and events. In such cases, the promotional messages is not considered as spam, as the consumer is actively seeking such information. For e.g., intimation of a sale, or when the placed order has been dispatched, etc. Even so, there are a large number of vendors who do not provide this option or worse, ignore it.
Nowadays, daily deal & group buying sites seem to have managed to circumvent the laws. Here’s how…
Major deal sites including SnapDeal, Soldinsixty, TimesDeal and Rediff’s Dealho Jaye allow anyone to submit a mobile number on their site for SMS subscription of their daily deals and offers. There is no validation done for mobile numbers. The same is true for e-mail addresses as well, but authentication is done in certain instances. Thus, it becomes so much simpler for someone (or the e-commerce site itself) to key-in random numbers on the site.
Why would they do this?
Well, isn’t it possible for a start-up, who out of despair want to get the word out and attract more users to their site? Or perhaps in order to hit the numbers for the quarter and please the investors? Merchants could have vested interests as well – in order to make sure that the SMS update from the deal site running their offer, reaches as many people as possible. There are simple scripts which will create a list of possible mobile phone numbers specific to a city based on the mobile operators code (for e.g., 98860 – Vodafone Bangalore; 98450 – Airtel Bangalore, etc).
DealsAndYou is one of the very few daily deal sites which actually authenticates the mobile numbers submitted on their site.
For those who became victims of such conniving methods, there is a way to get rid of the mobile spam. Most of the top sites provide an SMS Unsubscription link. But, the question remains as to why established players resort to such methods (whether intentional or not), when there are legal, cleaner means to get new subscribers.
It is to be noted that TRAI in a recent announcement earlier this month, said that
Access Providers have to make relevant provisions in their network before allocation of resources to telemarketers using ‘140’ numbering series from fixed line network. Accordingly, relevant clauses of regulations has been amended and the regulations are being implemented from 27th September, 2011.
The above amendment is applicable to any and all “Unsolicited Commercial Communications”, except SMSs which are in public interest are exempt from above rule. But, will the above mentioned instances also come under the cover of pesky calls / SMS where users have apparently ’opted’ for such communication without verification?
When will people get relief from SMS spam?