New Initiative to Be Introduced to Get Bills Without Sharing Mobile Number
In an attempt to check the menace of retailers seeking the mobile numbers of customers after every purchase to generate a bill, the consumer affairs ministry will issue an advisory to end this practice and mandate the explicit consent of buyers to get the contact details.
Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said the Centre is issuing the advisory following several complaints and said any seller insisting on the contact number of the customer falls under “unfair trade practises”.
Customers have complained about several retailers not providing them services if they refuse to share their contact numbers. “Sellers say they cannot generate the bill until personal contact details are provided. This is an unfair and restrictive trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, and there is no rationality behind collecting the information. They should not take the number unless there is express consent,” Singh said.
Government official’s statement
While it’s not mandatory in India for customers to give their mobile numbers to complete a purchase, most of the time they are not given the option to opt-out. Officials said this is also a privacy concern, and the customer should have the discretion to share the contact number or not. They added that there are complaints of salespersons informing customers that they can’t generate a bill without a contact number, as this is built into the system.
“We will specify the procedure the retailers need to follow to obtain the contact numbers of customers. If even after being told about the benefits, such as loyalty points for purchasing, a customer doesn’t want to give his number, the salespersons must not insist on this,” said an official.
“We have held consultation with the industry and have sent our input. Since the production of most electronic devices is dependent on the global supply chain, we have suggested that the timeline for our products can be fixed after the December 28, 2023, deadline set by the EU. This will ensure a smooth rollout and seamless availability of the equipment,” said an official.
The advisory will be sent out to the retail industry and entities such as CII, FICCI, and ASSOCHAM to address this issue in the interest of consumers.
In another move, the ministry has also sent its views on the introduction of a universal charging port — USB Type-C — for smartphones, laptops, and tablets to the electronics and IT ministry, suggesting that the rollout of these chargers can be done in June 2025, six months after the timeline set by the European Union.
The ministry has been pushing for the use of common chargers for only two types of electronic charging devices to reduce e-waste.