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Cell Phone Woes- 2015 Edition

  • Writing
  • 7 min read

I had posted the below saga on Facebook back in 2015. In spite of having Sever phone numbers, people found it difficult nearly impossible to reach me over telephone. This is a fictitious account inspired by my own (true) story.

I have seven phone numbers and yet I am not reachable….

One of the advantages of where I live is that only Airtel works well in this area. As of now, I do not have an Airtel mobile phone connection. And that makes me unreachable whenever I am home. Or in the office. Or when I am on the road anywhere in Bangalore.

Yesterday, I went to an Airtel showroom and told them that I had a broadband connection and a postpaid connection (which my wife uses). I asked, “Could I get a postpaid connection?”

Their answer was in the affirmative, but.. apart from the obligatory photograph and a copy of the internet bill, they asked me for my ID proof. Incidentally, I had my voter card with me, but they said “Sorry sir, it will take three more days to process because this address is from a different city.”

True, my voter ID card is from Gurgaon, my passport has a Pune address, my PAN card has a Mumbai address, my driving license has a Bangalore address,  my Aadhaar card probably has a Gujarat address. You see, I am a nomad, and this is a proof positive of that. I thought that since these were all Government of India issued ID’s, any of them would work. But that was not the case. In a nutshell, I am simply ineligible to get a mobile phone connection in time.  From the very service provider with whom I already have an account (and they already have my documents).

I raised this point with the Airtel sales rep. “When I got my broadband connection, I gave every possible document, including a copy of municipal registration of my dog.”

“True sir, but even for a minor change say change of address, you need to fill a form and give a copy of address proof, PAN card, and a photograph.”

Apparently, that is a mandate from TRAI- The Telephone Regulatory Authority of India.

So much for Government of India  making paperwork easy, and making things hassle free.I thought of writing to the ministry of Information & Broadcasting, TRAI, and the cronies who apparently are milking money by running such scams.

Poor me- I am only an Indian citizen with all the required Govt ID’s, which is probably why I am hassled so much.

Cell Phone on a table. Blog post by Amar Vyas

I went back home and I thought:
a. I have an old Idea number from 2006 or so (my parents used to use that), which is still working, but Idea has no Idea where I live or I work. It is a Maharashtra number, so till the time Mobile Number Portability arrives, I will keep it active.

However, the ID to obtain this connection was provided by my parents, who are no more. If I had to cancel it the legitimate way, I think I will have to go to Pune, get an affidavit made, provide attested copies of their death certificates, i.e. more paperwork.

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b. I have a Vodafone postpaid from Gurgaon which I cannot change to Airtel postpaid either in Gurgaon (because of address verification) or in Bangalore (because the telecom circles are different).

c. I have a Vodafone prepaid connection (again from Gurgaon) that I plan to let ‘die’ (i.e not use it for 90 days). Anyways, Vodafone service is so pathetic here – I learnt recently that in Vodafone regional office in Bengaluru, employees use Airtel… go figure!

d. Then there is the land line which will limit my mobility to a radius of two feet.I might have an old cordless phone lying somewhere in the electronic junk, but it will require an additional power outlet, which will mean using a power strip…more cables, more complication.

e. I have Skype and Google Hangouts, which require internet connectivity, and without mobile signal, when I am on the move, I cannot really use them. However, that does offer a partial solution. I can make calls when I am at work or at home thanks to wi-fi.

Five SIMs- all of them are useless

1. The phone number I used when I was in Ahmedabad (it was an Airtel number, and now I miss it, even though there was very poor connectivity for Airtel in IIMA new campus).

2. An Ahmedabad Vodafone number (which they disconnected even though it had 300 Rs balance),

3. My wife’s number from Ahmedabad (it, too had a 200 Rs balance, but promptly disconnected and recycled)

4. A DoCoMo SIM from God knows where, it used to work a couple of years ago.

5. And finally, an Airtel SIM from Gurgaon which they disconnected (it had some balance, too!). Apparently, they could not verify my documents. What a bunch of scam artists (or shall I say scum artists??)

Problem of plenty, and still problematic

My wife has an Airtel postpaid number local to Bangalore. She also has a prepaid number from Gurgaon. I had asked her to let me use the prepaid, but she uses a Nexus phone, which uses a micro SIM. I use a Mi3 which uses a regular SIM. In order to use the prepaid Airtel number from Gurgaon, I will have to get the SIM changed. In order to do so, I will have to go to Gurgaon (because the calling circles are different). This unfortunately also means that she will have to keep paying roaming charges again, till the time roaming goes away.

A Non-Solution in the Works

Ultimately, my wife and I decided that I will use the Airtel postpaid from Bangalore and discontinue my Vodafone number. That leads to another problem – the Vodafone number is registered with most of the financial institutions – banks, credit cards, as well as IRCTC, airlines, etc. Which means if I change my number, I will have to change it at all these places. That in itself is a nightmare.

Epiphany Strikes, and the Way Forward

From January 1, 2015, I will have two phone numbers one is a Vodafone postpaid number and a shiny new Airtel postpaid connection. ALL my other numbers will be discarded. I wish I were running a business- that way, I could have written off the remaining balance in those connections and saved some tax rupees.

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If you have read my rant this far, the message is simple: other than the numbers mentioned above, please delete ALL other numbers, email addresses, Skype ID, etc. from your address books. I will simply not be using them.

Thank you for reading, and wishing you a hassle free and stress free communication in the coming year.

End Note

By 2016, I had only one phone number, this remained to be the case till early 2023. I was planning to consolidate my email accounts and use only one or two of them- a task that remains unfinished even in 2023.