How Airtel is making money?

Telecom companies in India have found a new way to sell. Whenever they are short on their sales or profit targets, they just bill you for services not ordered by you.

Their modus operandi is very simple. They will start providing a value-added service free for a limited period without the permission of the customer. However, after the limited period is over, they start charging the customer without his permission with an excuse that it was the responsibility of the customer to inform the mobile operator to discontinue the service. Most of the time, people do not even look at the details of service charges on their telephone bills and just pay them. As such, customers fail to discontinue the service and end up paying for it. Now even if the customer gets to know, by the time he calls and tries to get the service discontinued, he ends up paying for two months for a service that he didn’t order or need. This unethical practice had become so rampant that the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) was left with no choice but to issue a directive to the telecom companies to not provide any chargeable service without the specific consent of the customer.
But then who listens to TRAI. Let me explain the above with a few examples. Airtel tried the above trick with us also. Airtel started playing “Hello Tunes” on three of our landlines and later started charging us also. Our customers informed us about the music being played on our telephones. When I called Airtel customer care, I was told that I must have placed the order for “Hello Tunes” through their automated telephone dialing system. I was shocked by their answer. In spite of a number of written and oral reminders to terminate the “Hello Tunes” service, they continued to play “Hello Tunes” on our telephones. Finally, a registered letter to Sunil Mittal, CEO of Airtel, did the trick. Airtel discontinued the “Hello Tunes” service on our telephones but they didn’t refund the amount they had charged us. Airtel did the same with us on CLIP charges.

Airtel also did the same trick with CLIP charges. They started charging CLIP charges on all our office telephones. Like most of you, I did not know what CLIP charges were. When I asked them, they told me that CLIP charges are caller identification charges. Now none of our office telephones have the facilities to display caller telephone number and as such why would I order for such a service. They were charging me Rs. 15/month on 4 telephone lines.

I was able to get the refund for both CLIP and Hello Tunes charges because I knew the telephone number of a group of people working in Bharti CEO’s office (41614690). They have named the group as “Appelate Authority.” You know sometimes companies make me laugh with what ideas they can come up with to show how customer friendly they are. Most people do not know this.
My friend Sandeep Mishra’s wife has a pre-paid Airtel connection and she is being charged for “Hello Tunes” without her permission. She has tried her level best but she is not able to get Airtel to stop charging her for “Hello Tunes.” In desperation, she now does not leave much money in her account. She is using is more for incoming calls.

No wonder Airtel’s valuation is hitting sky high. They are billing their customers for services that they have not ordered. In July 2006, Airtel announced that it had 25 million subscribers. If they charge Rs. 30 a month for “Hello Tunes” like they did to us, Bharti stands to generate a revenue of Rs. 750 million a month. I wish I could sell to my customers in the same manner. Now even if half of their customers cancel the service, Bharti would still gain Rs. 370 million a month with no sales effort. Calculate the amount taking into consideration that they have 75 million customers today? Rs. 1110 million a month (370×3)! Please note we have not yet considered the amount related to CLIP and other charges that Airtel could be billing its customers without their consent. Don’t you think this amounts to cheating?

Most of us would not make the effort to write to Sunil Mittal and spend money on registered letters like me. Quite a few of us would just keep paying the amount. Companies like Airtel are actually aware of this behavior of the customers and are unethically taking advantage.

My suggestion is that you check you telephone invoice (irrespective of the service provider) thoroughly every month. If you have a problem call the Airtel Appelate Authority no. at 41614690. Their call centers will not be able to solve your problem because Airtel does not want to make is easier for you to stop their revenue stream. Also, put your complaint in writing and send it to them. In addition, log in your complaint at

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BE CAREFUL, ENSURE Airtel has found new way of fooling the customer, it has billed the a service code 69602 on biils of sep-oct,2008, they will reverse the charges incase u notice and call them for reversal, otherwise airtel is enjoying Rs.50/- each bill.Airtel is cheating and harrasing its customers royally and authorities are sleeping over it.


Vijay Hi!

thanks for warning us. I have checking my Airtel bills before paying. I would like to take this opportunity to warn all customers of private telephone companies to check their bills before paying. I have been billed for services I didn’t order or didn,t require. Do let know if any one of you have found Rs. 50 charged by Airtel on your bills.

Imagine the kind of money Airtel can make. Rs. 50 times 75 million customers? Lets watch out pocket before it is picked by Airtel.

Thanks again Vijay for giving us this information.

avinash narula


Hi every one i’m a regular coustemer n useing airtel for last 4-5 year’s ,very sincerly AIRTEL IS THE BEST(……) about service but to my surprise for the last (4) month’s i’m suffering and there no one to help me out from one or the other problem .i change my residence in the month of dec 2008 n applied for the change of billing address 0n 29/01/2009 n even got the acknowledgement from them i was told it ll be done by next bill generation but it was not done by them i ve paid a sum of Rs=2000/- as i was not aware about my bill amount in very next day i recived a call he told me that the total is Rs=3834 i request them to forward the remaining amout in next bill they disconnect my “GPRS” facilaty when i enqury about i was told that this is due to some saterlite problem n it ll be cleard in 3 to 4 hr’s but to my surprise they barred my out going service immiditely ,whe i again contact them on 121 they told that my due date was gone n i ve to pay the amount to get back my mobile service back i immiditely paid off the bill but they took more then 4 hrs to restore the service,this is the all happen in last 45 day’s n today 28/04/2009 i got the bill on my new address when i opend it THERE WAS A NEW SURPRICE WAITING FOR ME that they charged me Rs=1595/- only for VALUE ADDED SERVICE.I CALLED UP 121 TO BILLING CLEARIFICATION ONLY MY BILL BALANCE N DUE DATE FOR PAYMENT(PRE-RECORDED)WITHOUT ANY OTHER OPTION.SEE AIRTEL IS THE BEST “CHEATER”.
Thank you very much for giving time on my comment.god bless you all.


I just want to express my concern how they are cheating customer abroad also.

They think customers are fools. They make plans which seems to be cheaper but when you purchase it they have rental for the same…..what it means nothing they are taking money in different names.

It is waste taking to their customer service …they are even so proud to tell it is like that. ….
Shame on Airtel……..I do not understand why no authorities in India is not concerned about unethical means of looting money.

Poor Poor Airtel….

Inspite of taking money their customer service is utterly poor……..they do not have courtesy after all we are paying for their poor service..


imagine Satyam has been charged with laundering (black) money through it’s “business” model. Mobile telephony is EVEN HARDER TO AUDIT! IMAGINE. Mr. Mittal is ALSO VERY POLITICALLY CONNECTED! IMAGINE the value of laundering money through a company like airtel!! WWOW.


I would like to take this opportunity to warn all customers of airtel to plz check their bills before paying, as they charged u for the service u have not opted.
like i was charged for clip service (which is free ) for 6 mths (dec 2012 to june 2013).When one day i saw my bill.
I call cistomer care they say it was a mistake . shame airtel for such mistake .


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