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Phone companies should compensate for phone ads

Proinsias Mac Pheadair :: Sir Frank Peters is proposing to the Minister of State, Post and Telecommunications, Tarana Halim MP, that telephone subscribers should be compensated for all SMS advertisements they receive and that all spam advertising phone calls are banned.

“Telephone companies in Bangladesh seem to think they have the right to bombard their subscribers with annoying advertisements under the guise of special offers, which they do several times daily. These come in the form of SMSs and automated spam phone calls that often repeat the same silly insignificant offer not even worthy of consideration. The companies, seemingly, have deluded themselves into believing they’re offering customers a valuable service and what they do is good marketing practices,” he said.

“The offers are generally pathetic and always annoying. One can’t help, but wonder if their intent is to torture their subscribers,” he added.

Sir Frank said during the early years of his visits to Bangladesh Grameenphone subscribers, were offered substantial offers like double-talk time for the same cost and these offers were intelligent and the interruptions were welcomed.

“Now the phone company advertisements have become the equivalent of spam emails and I have yet to find someone who welcomes spam emails,” he said.

The former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor said that on countless occasions he’s attended meetings where important SMS messages with vital information were awaited and needed on the spot, only to have the meetings disrupted by telephone companies with the “silliest of silliest not even worthy of consideration discount offers”.

“Not only do these uninvited SMSs disrupt the individual, all present, but the ethos of the meeting itself, which has to be put on hold while attention is given to the SMS, just in case it’s the information awaited.

“A captured audience we are, undoubtedly, but phone companies seem to think we’re enslaved to them, and it’s their right to disrupt our lives as they do. They’re also delusional if they think the practice is good marketing. If they want to send SMSs to their subscribers and disrupt what they’re doing, let them pay for the privilege,” he said.

Sir Frank proposes that subscribers should be compensated for the “uninvited and bothersome” SMS disruptions and suggests between 10 and 20 taka talk-time compensation for every SMS received and subscribers are given the option to receive none, if they so desire.

“It would be preferable if phone companies did this by self-regulation, but if necessary by law,” he said.

He is also asking the Minister to outlaw advertising phone calls.

“While spam SMSs are infuriating, spam phone calls from numbers like 4000, 4001, 4848, 2001, 2222, 2666, 16449, 585854 are demanding, disruptive, time-wasting, infuriating, torturous and have absolutely no redeeming factors whatsoever and should be banned, even if only on the grounds that they cause a public disturbance.

“When the phone rings millions of possible scenarios await them…people outside and inside their homes rush to answer the insistent ringing thinking it could be their child, a relative, an expected call from a friend, or at least one that’s important to them that they dare not miss.

“It’s never a marketing plus to disappointment, vex and upset the very people you are trying to win-over by distracting them from their important chores, perhaps attending to their babies or the sick, and demand they make Olympic-like sprints to receive irrelevant phone calls. They have to stop,” Sir Frank said.

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