WhatsApp number (+91 77100 12345) launched by ASCI on 10th March’16 has tremendously faciliated Consumer reach. The consumer contact has almost doubled due to this new medium available to consumers to register their complaint. WhatsApp is now contributing to more than 12% of the total advertisements complained against and deliberated upon by the Consumer Complaints Council. With the increased awareness levels, it has also had an incremental effect on the overall number of complaints received directly by other means such as Mobile App and Website. This has resulted in more than 30% increase in the overall number of advertisements complained against.
Speaking on the achievement, Mr. Benoy Roychowdhury, ASCI chairman said “We launched ASCI WhatsApp number with an objective to provide an “on-the-go” and easy “where-ever, when-ever” access for consumers to lodge complaints against objectionable advertisements and to increase ASCI’s reach across India trickling down to smaller towns. This initiative has, indeed, exceeded our expectations proving to be successful within three months of launch. Our WhatsApp number was welcomed not only by consumers but also taken note of, by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, Prasar Bharati, etc. It was called out as a proactive step to be emulated by other similar agencies. Indeed, we are happy and proud that ASCI is in the forefront of “Transforming India”, leveraging technology for consumer meaningful tools.”
ASCI’s WhatsApp number has seen complaints coming in against advertisements appearing in a wide range of sectors such as FMCG, Healthcare, Telecom, E-commerce, Travel, Durables, Automotive, Food and Beverages, Education etc. Complaints came in from across India including West Jaintia Hills, Bareilly, Varanasi, Vadodara, Ludhiana, Chennai, etc. And from all age groups – right from college students to senior citizens. These complaints were made against advertisements across media, beyond the conventional – Print and TV, such as Website, Radio, SMS, Emailers, Promotional Materials, Product Packaging, Hoardings, etc. Consumers also sent pictures of hoardings, images taken of packaging or print ads, videos of advertisements as they were actually being played on their TV, links to web-sites etc. Even housewives or people not savvy with computers and without an e:mail access could send their complaints very easily. Complaints were sent by consumers in their own languages (Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, Kannada etc.) as typed in English and some creative approaches such as voice notes were also used! Consumers felt connected and the quick response was appreciated. So much so that ASCI also received spontaneous messages of appreciation from consumers for launching this service.
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