2 in 3 Indians surveyed get 3 or more pesky calls every day; 50% of them say such calls originate from personal number of people
- ● 45% surveyed get on average 3-5 pesky calls each day while 16% claimed getting 6-10 per day; 5% claim getting more than 10 pesky calls each day
- ● No one left out as all 100% in the survey confirm getting pesky calls regularly
- ● 60% callers indicate receiving most calls related to “selling financial services”; 18% get most calls related to “selling real estate” while 10% receive most calls “offering a job/earnings opportunity”
- ● Survey shows situation worsening with efforts from TRAI and operators not yielding results so far
- ● Survey outlines for TRAI the modus operandi of pesky calls by personal phone numbers and want it to implement stringent measures against them
February 14, 2023, New Delhi: LocalCircles, in late January met the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) leadership to discuss a series of consumer issues ranging from 5G service experience to pesky calls/SMS and from rampant call drops to fixed line issues. Subsequently, TRAI has called a meeting with mobile phone operators on February 17th to discuss the quality of wireline and wireless services. The meeting will discuss potential “measures and action plan to improve the QoS, review the current QoS standards, QoS for 5G services, and unsolicited commercial communications," the regulator said in its statement on February 2nd.
TRAI in 2022 had released a consultation paper on mandatory implementation of Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) in Telecommunication Networks which is designed to display the name of the caller (even if the receiver has not saved the same on their device/SIM) on the receiver’s screen when the call connects. However, complaints from consumers have continued to rise and unsolicited communications is something people have been regularly discussing on LocalCircles. With the situation only worsening over time, people have taken the discussions to the next level and are identifying root causes and solutions. To ensure that these are not experiences of a handful of people and to quantify the magnitude of pesky calls, LocalCircles conducted a national survey which received over 56,000 responses from citizens located in 342 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 48% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
66% of mobile subscribers surveyed indicated that they receive three or more pesky calls each day
The first question in the survey asked mobile subscribers “On average, how many unwanted, pesky, sales/promotional or robo phone calls do you receive on your mobile number every day”. Of the total 11,157 mobile subscribers who responded to this question 66% shared that they get 3 or more such phone calls on average every day. In fact, 96% of mobile subscribers indicated that they receive at least one such call every day with 4% opting for Can’t Say. Not a single person selected the option saying “they don’t get any such phone calls. The data shows that 30% of respondents get such calls once or twice a day; 45% get it 3-5 times an average every day; 16% indicated they get such nuisance calls 6-10 times on an average every day; 5% get it more than 10 times on an average every day.
92% get unwanted / pesky calls despite being registering on the Do Not Disturb (DND) list”
One of the solutions that has been made available by TRAI and operators is the Do Not Disturb (DND) list where any subscriber can visit their operator’s website or call them and register their number in a DND list to avoid getting unsolicited commercial communication. The second question in the survey attempted to understand the effectiveness of the DND feature provided by operators. It asked mobile subscribers “Do you get unwanted, pesky sales /promotional or robo calls on your mobile despite being registered on the DND list of your operator?” In response, only 4% out of 15,040 respondents to this question said “No, don’t get them” and another 4% opted for “can’t say” while an overwhelming 92% responded “Yes, still get them”. This indicates that DND lists managed by operators are completely ineffective in restraining unsolicited commercial communication from marketeers and other business and service providers.
78% mobile subscribers surveyed claim that maximum unwanted calls they get are from financial services and real estate sectors
The next question in the survey attempted to understand what are the sectors that send most unsolicited commercial communication in the form of pesky calls to people. It asked them, “Under what category do you get the most unwanted, pesky, sales promotional, robo phone calls on your mobile number?”. Out of 15,186 respondents 60% indicated “selling financial services”; 18% get calls “selling real estate”; 10% receive calls “offering a job/ earnings”; 2% get calls offering “services for RO repair, Spa, beauty treatment, etc.”; 2% related to providing “healthcare/ pathology services”; 2% “providing mobile number, better mobile talk/ data plans, etc.; 4% selected other categories; and only 2% indicated that they “don’t get any such phone calls from such sectors”. These 2% are still getting pesky calls but they are just not business or commercial in nature. To sum up, 78% mobile subscribers who responded to the survey claim that maximum unwanted calls they get are from financial services and real estate sectors.
In 2023 survey, LocalCircles went a step further and asked citizens to root cause why there is no respite in this menace of pesky calls and why DND lists have become ineffective. Many citizens made an observation that the pesky phone calls they get don’t seem to be coming from a number belonging to a brand/company but they seem to be private numbers belonging to individuals. LocalCircles, via its next question attempted to quantify the magnitude of the same.
1 in 2 mobile subscribers get majority of unwanted and pesky phone calls from private mobile numbers of different individuals and not company numbers
The final survey question asked mobile subscribers about the modus operandi of these pesky phone calls. It asked them “How do you receive majority of these unwanted pesky, sales/promotional or robo phone calls on your mobile?” Out of the 15,312 respondents, 50% indicated “from different mobile phone numbers that seem to belong to individuals”; 29% indicated from different mobile numbers that seem to belong to companies/ brands”; 14% from a centralized company land line number; and 7% indicated they can’t say. Thus, 1 in 2 mobile subscribers surveyed confirm getting the majority of unwanted and pesky phone calls from personal mobile numbers of different individuals.
This finding validates what has been reported by people. Citizens employed in the financial services, real estate and other service industries shared insights about those in sales and marketing in their organisations hiring 3rd party agencies for lead generation. Per the information shared, these contracted agencies have staff who uses their personal mobile numbers from their offices or home to make such calls. In most cases, the list is furnished by the customer or the contracted agency. The finding also explains why the DND is so ineffective. Though telecom operators make brands and corporates provide various undertakings when sending commercial communication, nothing applies to an individual caller.
The collective also discussed a variety of solutions to the menace including a centralized TRAI system where aggrieved mobile subscribers have an option to easily report pesky callers. According to people, the system should work in a way that after a certain number of unique subscriber complaints are received the number is blacklisted for outbound calls for a period leading to permanent blacklisting. Some citizens also were in favour of such activity being reported against the linked Aadhaar number such that when the pesky caller attempts to procure another mobile number they are asked for additional declarations, security deposit including outright rejection of request for a period of time. Those citizens recommending such provisions believe that unless such stringent actions aren’t taken the menace of pesky calls is unlikely to subside.
In summary, the survey finds that the menace of pesky calls has continued to increase with efforts of TRAI and operators showing no results so far. It found that, pretty much every mobile subscriber is receiving such calls and 2 in 3 subscribers surveyed getting 3 or more each day. It also found that the DND is completely ineffective with 92% of those being registered for DND confirming that they still get these pesky calls. 88% mobile subscribers in the survey said that the maximum unwanted calls they get are from financial services, real estate sectors, and those offering jobs and earning opportunities. The survey also brought to light a very important facet where 50% of the mobile subscribers surveyed said that such calls come from personal mobile numbers of people explaining how the entire DND system gets bypassed. Corporates and brands provide undertakings when sending commercial communication, but the individual caller doesn’t have to. The need of the hour here is for TRAI and operators to take note of the survey findings and pay special attention to the solutions identified by the collective on LocalCircles. If enough disincentives are created for the individual engaging in pesky calls, chances are this menace will reduce over time.
LocalCircles will share the findings of this survey with DOT and TRAI so they can take the findings and solution recommendations into account as they work towards addressing the menace of unsolicited commercial communication and pesky calls.
The survey received over 56,000 responses from citizens located in 342 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 48% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.