Vodafone to pay doctor for unsolicited calls

Holding Vodafone India guilty of deficiency in service, Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has upheld a lower court order asking the service provider to pay Rs 20,000 compensation and Rs 5,000 costs to a doctor for failing to stop unsolicited commercial communications.

"Vodafone failed to discharge its obligation and acted with imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the nature and manner of purpose, which is required to be maintained by it under the regulations," observed S R Khanzode and Dhanraj Khamatkar in their order Friday.

"Thus, deficiency in service within the meaning of section 2(1)(g) of the Act is established against Vodafone," the forum members said while dismissing an appeal by Vodafone.

Dr Ashish Gala, who practices in Mulund, had registered with Vodafone for the "Do not Call" service. However, he continued to get calls from companies, following which he filed a complaint with Vodafone on August 30, 2008, saying that the firm should have ensured that he did not get the calls.

Vodafone argued that it was not deficient in service as under Telecom and Solicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007, there is no obligation on them to stop unsolicited commercial calls.

Vodafone said Telephone Regulatory Authority of India did not contemplate and acknowledge the fact that such communication or unsolicited communication calls cannot be stopped entirely.

Vodafone contended that as per explanatory memorandum issued to clause 16 of the Regulations, a subscriber is given 15 days to make the complaint to his service provider. However, Dr Gala's complaint on August 30, 2008, in respect of calls dated July 31, 2007, August 2, 2007, and February 19, 2008, was filed much beyond the stipulated period and this could not cast upon them any obligation to stop such calls, Vodafone pleaded.

Vodafone submitted that clause 16 provides the procedure and, ultimately, action is to be taken against the establishment that had generated unsolicited commercial calls, which in this case was HDFC Bank Ltd.

... contd.

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