Airtel was one of the telcos pioneering this change in the country’s telecom subscriber realm
Airtel is now charging its prepaid subscribers Rs 23 to automatically renew the validity for incoming and outgoing calls provided under ‘special recharge’ packs. This means that if the tariff on your Airtel prepaid mobile number has expired and you do not wish to extend it, the company will forcefully deduct Rs 23 from your account to extend the validity to 28 days, an Airtel customer care executive explained.
[Update]: After many readers pointed out that Vodafone Idea is following the same pattern where it charges Rs 23 to extend the validity on a customer’s number, we have removed the Vodafone Idea part towards the end of the article.
The leading telcos in India drew heavy criticism over their desperate yet monopolistic measures to force their subscribers to keep paying for their connection in the form of ‘special recharge’. These special recharges provide subscribers with validity, talk time, and other benefits including data and SMS.
While such tariff sachets have been available for a long time, the mandatory nature of the new counterparts restricts subscribers from enjoying incoming and outgoing calls, even if there is sufficient balance in their account, when the validity expires. The subscribers are required to top up their accounts with an eligible validity pack to save their number from suspension.
Airtel was one of the telcos pioneering this change in the country’s telecom subscriber realm. It ascribed the change in Terms of Service to the loss of subscribers and the dip in ARPU. Initially, it alerted the subscriber to recharge their number if the validity for outgoing and incoming calls is nearing its expiry. There were no compulsory charges incurred to your account.
The charge of Rs 23 seems unreasonable and unacceptable, especially when it merely extends the validity sans any voice or data benefits. The usual ‘special recharge’ packs come with either benefit with a validity of 1 day or higher.
Reliance Jio, on the other hand, does not have special recharge packs for validity specifically. It offers a bundled pack with voice calls, daily data, and SMSes for different validity periods.