Is Aircel Deliberately Misleading Prepaid Customers with Non-Existent offers?

Cellular service providers who are said to work towards protecting their wafer thin margins, often resort to variety of tactics which are sometimes unethical. One such practice was brought to our notice by one of our readers Mr. Dhananjay. He highlighted issues with Aircel where their website listed some exclusive offers but were not available for use. When he brought the issue to Aircel’s notice they were unapologetic in this regard!

What is the Issue?

Like any other mobile operator, Aircel reportedly offers certain combo packs as exclusive online recharges – or at least that’s what their website says. Like any budget conscious customer, Dhananjay wanted to opt for a certain rate cutter and clicked on ‘Recharge Online’. To his surprise these exclusive online recharges were not showing up in Aircel’s own recharge portal!



We were also taken by surprise when we tried the same from our end. Dhananjay contacted Aircel’s customer care and Appellate Authority by email. Later after calling Aircel, it was clarified on phone calls that the plans were yet to be launched! On being questioned about the rationale behind this, Aircel promised Dhananajay that they would to get back to him at a later date. Now after several days on  March 3, Aircel’s Appellate authority replied with the same information – the plans are put up for informational purposes only!


Our Questions to Aircel

Like Dhananjay even we are unable to understand the rationale behind exhibiting non-existent recharge options. Even if we give Aircel a benefit of doubt by believing what they say would be live soon, it must not take beyond 10 days. This communication was initiated on 21 Feb with Aircel and even today at the time of writing the options are not available! This makes us think if this is a deliberate attempt from Aircel to attract new customers! To explain further, say you move to a new city in another state. Despite of free roaming plans available, you will prefer taking a local mobile connection for pocket friendliness! Your obvious destination would be all mobile operators websites. If official websites fail to provide right information where else to find it then? If there was indeed a thought to launch the plans Aircel should have launched it after bringing the issue to their notice or put up a footnote below!

Readers, did you notice such attempts to mislead customers/prospective customers by mobile operators? If yes, do let us know.

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  • TAMILSELVAN.M June 25, 2014 4:51 pm

    AICELL, is duty waste, useless…my prblm is i have netcard nearly 800mb, but when i use net , it takes balance from my main account……so i decierd to chang my sim/ also pls aircell customer change u r sim……nobody ans me , when i call to customer care ..blody nonsense company..idiot

  • GVNaidu March 20, 2014 3:59 pm

    I had some bitter experience with Aircel. I activated Data Mornings. Received confirmation message “Now enjoy unlimited 3G+2G from 6 AM to 9Am”.Unfortunately my balance depleted on using the data as stated by them. The websites also did not even open.

  • Kaushik Biswas March 14, 2014 2:34 am

    Yes, I have seen misleading info on Aircel website regarding certain recharge denominations. In some topup recharges they give some free A2A minutes and some SMS, I never got those free SMS, none of my friends got those either. In one topup recharge (Rs. 69 in Kolkata) they offer value “upto Rs. 100″, but they don’t mention that topup recharge value has a validity period of 30 days!

    There are other problems as well. Like, today one friend informed me that despite having Rs. 14 prepaid balance, Aircel was barring outgoing calls citing reason of “low account balance”. You want to hear more? User having very basic handset with no internet connectivity option in their phone are complaining that Aircel is deducting some amount every day showing some kilobytes of data usage.

    And, have you noticed, Aircel has active diverts by default (in Kolkata it’s 98040 98112 for ‘out of reach’ condition)! No matter how many times you try to cancel or deactivate it, this divert switches ‘on’ again. However, it’s a non-functional number, but should they do it at all?

    • SS March 14, 2014 10:46 am

      Do have missed call alert service activated? Then its that number which cannot be deactivated from handset. Short codes are there to deactivate it.

      • Kaushik Biswas March 18, 2014 1:06 am

        No, it’s not the missed call alert. It’s under call divert menu, active for ‘out of reach’ status.

  • sachin March 12, 2014 2:45 am

    In maharatra-Goa circle the GPRS /3G billing system of Aircel is faulty. in my case even after activating internet plan my main balance was getting reduced every 4-5 days period. customer support simply refuses to accept their mistake. sometimes unwanted services gets activated without your knowledge.I stopped using Aircel for this reason. TRAI has no control over Aircel….

  • Yogesh Sarvade March 10, 2014 11:02 pm

    Vodafone share indian users data with british intelligence agency: Indian home ministry reported by PTI.
    It s unaccepable, Verizon doing same in usa.
    Email, messages, contacts n internet use all data of Indian users given to British Agencies: 16 cr = 160 milion users of Vodafone in India.
    TT team plz ve article regarding this: This s serious issue.

    • SS March 11, 2014 10:59 am

      They are accused by home ministry. Not yet proved. International routes are monitored not domestic. TT cannot write an article just on the basis of reports.

  • Dileep March 10, 2014 12:17 pm

    You should also check the customer care service of Aircel. The executives are very rude and many times they talk in insulting manner to you while government is taking these services as concern for quality.I have personally experienced it so I have to post it here for reference to others that don’t try to call customer care these people are to bad to talk they are not soft spoken.

  • Imon Aryan March 9, 2014 11:12 pm

    They are not going.

    they are rapidly growing.

    they catched the market again.

    they providing much cheaper offer.

    they had self care .

    they launching their Mobile-payment service soon

    (today just when i was visiting to barrackpore ,,,checked a retailer board –on “AIRCEL SmartPayment powered by ICICI Bank available here”)

    They had 3G service licences and service too.

    they had 4G spectrum on 2300mhz (20mhz ) on WEST BENGAL.

    Largest WI -FI chains by cellular operator side.

    and much more ……

    Stay wid AIRCEL.

    AND PUT A COMPLAINT ON @aircel handle on twitter.,they would call u back .Thats smarted way for get in touched wid their carelines.

  • Sayantan(Kolkata) March 9, 2014 10:22 pm

    Aircel had deducted an amount of 130 rupees from my account saying that I had been surfing the internet even after my gprs pack’s data balance was over.Inspite of complaining several times that my data balance wasn’t over,they didnt refund my balance.Still I love Aircel because its the only cheap operator with good coverage available here in Kolkata and West Bengal.I have never faced any kind of network problem with Aircel,though many complain that they face indoor coverage problem. I always have a fear in myself of aircel shutting down its service in kolkata just like they did in few circles.I hope the fear dosen’t become a reality.

  • idea888 March 9, 2014 7:07 pm

    I am recieving 55 kbps downloding speed today first time on pc. wowwww!!! Aircel rocks in mumbai

  • Yogesh Sarvade March 9, 2014 6:06 pm

    Virgin Mobile GSM: It also not updated its website for Maharashtra circle: n even ussd *131# same problem; but offers for Mumbai circle are updated,: I like V I M: 60 p/ min call n Internet speed Good 25-28KB/s n@ night it increases to 30KB/s,which enough for me.N since a month no auto dissconnect issue.

  • S P SINGH March 9, 2014 6:25 am

    Yes, I am using postpaid connection of aircel.Although aircel is providing cheapest call rates in delhi and i like it very much. But at the time of taking connection they don’t told me about minimum amount plan.After that when i activated 251 plan i did not get 150 minutes local a 2 a minute which they have mentioned on their website,even their customer care executive was telling that their is no such a benefit with this plan.

  • Vineet Singh March 9, 2014 1:47 am

    AirTel Kolkata 2G offer:
    Rs.92 = 2GB 2G for 30 days.

    • SOURAV March 9, 2014 4:39 pm


  • imahesh March 9, 2014 1:39 am

    Same with Airtel Mumbai.
    instead of web based here problem with USSD code.
    *121*11# code provides available 2G or 3G internet activation but some 2G/3G plan not activating then why it showing there.
    example- As plan shows Rs. 57 provides 150 3G data for 30 days but not able to activate when having main balance above Rs. 57 but if balance is low then reply message shows “Your balance is low”
    Same problem with Some SMS packs also.
    Don’t know now how it handle loop customer.

    • Yogesh Sarvade March 9, 2014 5:46 pm

      @ Mahesh,: True: Airtel n Idea has ussd issues. My experience: For airtel: My special offer: 25rs/750 MB 2G: I call call center n they then activated net by from main bal.
      Idea: I have to dial 12125 else ve to do recharge from retailer.
      Tata DOCOMO ussd is best: activatin in few sec.
      I m @ Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

  • RIYA KOLKATA March 9, 2014 1:22 am

    Please dont post like this against Aircel. In my locality at Chandannagar (Hooghly, West Bengal,Pin-712136) although their network is not good at the river side area of Hoghhly River but only Aircel provides the cheapest call rate between all the GSM providers. And they never mislead customers of kolkata and west bengal like vodafone and airtel do.
    But please Aircel kindly plant BTS at the Hooghly river side area of Chandannagar,Hooghly, West Bengal,Pin-712136.
    Many young people are waiting to use Aircel in that place. Chandannagar Govt. colg is also there but no indoor coverage.

    • Abhishek March 9, 2014 7:25 am

      @Riya– Do you use aircel only for voice or for both voice & data? I use aircel for data purpose only..And it gives fairly good torrent speed ( 400-500 KBps)..I reside at khadinamore Chinsurah..What about Reliance jio in your locality? I saw them lying OFC in my area.

      • ak March 9, 2014 10:17 pm

        have u lost ur mind? 400-500 KBps mean KB/sec or kbps? with aircel 400-500 KB/sec is idk what to say..verify and if possible post a screenshot of speedtest at its 400-500 KB/sec then speed must be around around 3.2-4 Mbps

        • Saurabh March 10, 2014 9:46 am

          Why are you over-reacting. He is using 3G and Aircel provide speed upto 3.2-4 Mbps in areas where congestion is less and where it is high it is between 1-2.4 Mbps.

          I use Idea/Voda 3G in my area with 28.8Mbps dongle in Haryana and average speed here is 10-12Mbps on both networks. Voda in morning gives 14-16Mbps i.e 1.75-2MB/s and rest of time it is never less than 10 Mbps. So what the big deal if he is getting 3.2-4Mbps with Aircel. There is no reason for you to over-react.

          I have seen many people getting surprised when I talk about that much speed. When I checked their dongle it were 3.6/7.2Mbps only. Those who have 3.6Mbps dongle tells that Idea 3G speed is not more than 2.5Mbps and those who have 7.2Mbps says it is not more than 5-6 Mbps. They don’t go into the fact that their dongle has a limited speed which is less than what Idea/Voda providing here. Tata Docomo 3G isn’t available in my area but I tested in cities where it is available and it is also good at 8-10Mbps with same dongle.

          Some days back a friend came to my home and said, “Yaar Idea ki 3G speed toh 2.2Mbps se upar ni jati, faaltu mein hi 21 Mbps network ads mein aata hai”. I checked his dongle which was a Virgin Australia branded unlocked at maximum d/l speed was 3.6Mbps. I told him that your dongle has that much speed only so you can’t expect more than 2.8 Mbps and average will be lesser than this. If you want more than 10 Mbps get a new one with at-least 21 Mbps max. Then he put a question that why I don’t get 3.6 Mbps with my modem? I told from my experience that dongles always give upto 70-90% of their maximum limit and it never reaches 100% due to technical classes. A 7.2 Mbps will never give that much speed on constant basis even if network speed is more than that. Similarly a 14.4 Mbps modem will give upto 11-12 Mbps and a 21.6 Mbps modem will give maximum 18-19 Mbps and not more than that even if you have a 42.2Mbps network. I once used Reliance in Punjab and mine 28.8 Mbps gave more than 18-19 Mbps for a minute or so before stabilizing at 16-17 Mbps. But now Reliance sucks there at 6-8 Mbps only.

          Aircel do cap speed to 3.6 Mbps or 7.2Mbps in their plans and Airtel also has maximum capping to 7.2 Mbps but Idea/Voda has not capped and it is 21 Mbps or 21000 Kbps when checked with MDMA and end user like me getting over 10 Mbps. In cities where users are more average speed is between 8-12Mbps and at peak times it is 4-7Mbps also. :)

          • Abhishek March 10, 2014 9:47 pm

            @ak & Saurabh –cool down guys..At first I was also shocked seeing such speed from aircel..But later found out some reasons which may be the cause though I am not sure..
            a) My home is very near to a BTS approx 20-30 m..
            b) I dont think there are many active net users in my vicinity..
            c) I posted the comment after seeing the torrent speed while I was downloading Sherlock Holmes season3..It was 1.7 GB ,got downloaded in 20-25 mns..
            @ak — I will post screenshots of both & torrent as soon as my exams are over..a bit pre occupied now..

            • abhishek March 10, 2014 9:50 pm

              @ak & saurabh — I am using a mmx pocket wifi router ( 7.2 mbps) ina Dell Inspiron laptop running win 8.1

              • Abhishek March 10, 2014 11:33 pm

                @ak — speedtest result shows ping-87 ms..Download speed–4.08 Mbps Upload — 0.41 Mbps

    • Chetan March 9, 2014 7:40 am

      Madam, aap to senti hogaye, anyways happy belated woman’s day.

      Bottomline is cheap service is not better or best, you have already seen aircel service as they are not having proper covergae and not adhering to your 10-12 complaints. What else do you expect.

  • Anirud March 9, 2014 1:09 am

    Reliance misleading gprs pack still found on their website just check ? 248/- plan its shows 20GB DATA with 90 days validity
    but the reality is 6GB DATA with 60 days validity

  • Neeladri March 8, 2014 11:50 pm

    Not only aircel, but also mts do this. They claim many thing but all are false.

  • Darshan March 8, 2014 11:13 pm

    Now !dea 3G has capped its speed in maharashtra to 1.3mbps.I thought there will be some error but its more than 5 days getting the same speed.Speak to cc they registered my complaint and 5 days still the same…
    N 1 more BSNL upgraded my area connection to H+ Network now I am getting 4.9mbps speed on BSNL! Which never crossed 2.3mbps…Will b see till what time they keep the same will be the same

    • Yogesh Sarvade March 9, 2014 5:55 pm

      @ Darshan: Now Idea 2G disconnection problem: After each 30 min it disconnect, sometimes reconnects after 30-40 sec, n many times: Aeroplane mode activates: All sim activities block for that duration: Don’t know is any problem with handset, settings; but facing the said problem since 2 days: Idea 2G: my offer 1.5GB @78 I had opt.
      N I again sent MNP from my Tata DOCOMO gsm n they reduce call rates to: 1p/2sec.

      • Darshan March 12, 2014 7:54 am

        @Yogesh i am also facing 30min disconnection problem in idea….also now they removed 152rs 1gb 3G offer from last month so there is no use of using idea…I tried docomo by activating 11rs unlimited 3G for 30min at *123# but the problem was after activating this pack the net didnot start for 1st 12min & then hardly I could download 100mb and after didnot know 30min where over lost my 70rs balance so I am not interested to use tata…Bsnl in my area have put H+ network I am getting speed 4.6mbps and upload 970kbps speed so using bsnl nly…thinking to port idea number to vodafone

  • Mane March 8, 2014 8:46 pm

    Best service provider in Rajasthan and cheapest even than cdma player mts and no misleading advt for Rajasthan circle. Aircel growing very fast in this circle. Thanks aircel

  • Jayant March 8, 2014 8:44 pm

    Please confirm properly before posting something like this. Aircel is the only operator providing cheap services PAN India. They do what they say. They dont boast for a great network because they know its not.
    They tell the truth.
    Regarding recharges, like Rs 108 you need to enter mobile number and select Top-Up, then if the recharge is available for you it appears as a pop up on screen.

    • Venkat March 8, 2014 8:59 pm

      They have pan India licence( dnt know exactly)…. But not pan India services… No signal in A.P(except hyd). Kerala also no coverage… 2-3 other states are also there… They stopped services with out prior info… Such an idiotic Aircel…

      • krish March 9, 2014 7:54 am

        I am not getting aircel signal outside vijayawada.

  • Jayant March 8, 2014 8:40 pm

    This isn’t true. Over time period I have recharged with all these offers and have also received benefits. I have tried Rs 108 recharge , Rs 258 and Rs 358 multiple times.

  • Sunil March 8, 2014 8:13 pm

    Idea Tamilnadu Mega Weekend Offer.
    RC 98=2GB 2G internet valid for 30 days.

  • deepakdas March 8, 2014 4:40 pm

    They’re really froud*…. after complaning about pathetic netwrk not wrking in klwa east mumbai,they gave me a complaint no.Dear sr we’re sorry fr ur trouble.what the hell they doing…i’m going to portout soon:…?

  • sudhir Dakey March 8, 2014 4:11 pm

    I feel Tata Docomo website is much much better than others, even BSNL online recharge website is also good but does not give details some time. I am with docomo since 3 years now (prepaid) and choose it because of its plans, network and more importantly its friendly and informative website.

  • Jibin John March 8, 2014 1:47 pm

    Hi. I also find airtel’s site outdated. I’m from Kerala circle. I saw an offer in the site saying 75rs full TT.

    When I did that recharge for my friend, he got 1 rupee and 75mins ISD calls. He called the customer care and they said it was an old offer written in the website. They didn’t refund the money or do anything.

    So he used MNP and changed the network.

    • Khaleel March 8, 2014 2:47 pm

      Aircel in Kerala..? My aircel sim stopped working long ago..

      • Mayank Bajaj March 8, 2014 3:32 pm

        Dude read again its AIRTEL nor AIRCEL :P

  • aditya March 8, 2014 1:39 pm

    i recharge my aircel prepaid with 251 and get 9 gb of 2g data for 90 days.

  • Vinayaga Moorthy March 8, 2014 1:33 pm

    I got those offers as listed in the website. Make sure of the selected circle. It may change while navigating through pages . the denominations appear only after you enter the number and after selecting the circle. select special recharge option and the denominations will load with radio buttons. I think there is no bug . People don’t know to use it. It was the better website than any other .

    • sathish March 8, 2014 4:31 pm

      Yes, i agree with you. I recharge through that website only.

  • Sreedhar March 8, 2014 1:16 pm

    Aircel is only good at deducting amount from customers account by activating some idiotic VAS without the consent of customer.
    The Highlight of Aircel is, they deduct money from customer’s account, even if the number is switched off.
    Hatsoff to aircel for their “Innovative” techniques. Aircel is fit for Nothing!!!

    • sachin March 12, 2014 2:51 am

      yes, i was fed up of these techniques used by Aircel and stopped using Aircel after loosing all balance.

  • Ganesh Srinivasan March 8, 2014 12:50 pm

    Two of us in our family are regular Aircel users, we use online recharges

    We have always got what we wanted and as specified on website

    I find Airtel’s website fairly outdated

    Aircel & Vodafone websites are neatly updated and we have got what is stated (in our family we use Airtel, Aircel & Vodafone)

    • Arjun Chandrashekar March 9, 2014 4:42 pm

      Well Aircel is also expanding their coverage, Last week I got an Information from Aircel that they had Setup 700 Towers Across KTK (Karnataka)

  • himangshu March 8, 2014 12:24 pm

    putting up a website is just a formality for aircel. here in Assam they haven’t updated their website for ages. I contacted appellate authority regarding this and they said that they’ll pass this to technical staff but nothing changes. they even change plans without any information like 198 Internet plan was unlimited a few days ago but now it’s limited and their is no info about this plan change in their website or IVR I came to know about this after losing balance.

  • Rajesh March 8, 2014 12:18 pm

    Aircel started cheating and stealing money from their customers in the way of sms packs which are either 33, 47 or 55. after recharging they are charging 50paise for first sms. for what the fc*k we paid already and againg charging
    For ex: Rs. 47 – 3000 sms which included (2900 local and 100national sms)
    for 3000 sms=Rs.47
    for 30*.50= Rs.15
    so totally they are charging Rs.62 from the customers for just 3000 sms.
    TT should escalate this to trai anywhere to reduce these type of charges.
    By Frustrated customer

  • siva March 8, 2014 12:04 pm

    RCom is worse than this. their SMS information about special tariff vouchers are inaccurate. recently i charged RC 33 for which i was promised 6000 local seconds in SMS. actually i got only 5400 local seconds.

    strangely, their website gives accurate details!

  • Parminder Singh March 8, 2014 11:55 am

    I am an Aircel victim too, their website show some plans which are non existant, moreover when you recharged for that plan you will see the offer was changed many days ago but not updated website

  • Gopala Krishna March 8, 2014 11:47 am

    me also faces same problem.They are providing this useless recharge from so many days.
    I took a new Aircel few months which will include Rs 10 balance adding facility (i think FRC28+2), but what what Aircel doing is simply deducting that 10 rupees once it added to my account..

  • Zeeshan March 8, 2014 11:38 am

    I did my recharge on paytm and they didnot recharge it but charged my bank account also they didnot refund back my money.Everyday I mail them they say that we are coordinating with operator and it will take more 48hrs.12days passed and everyday the same reason.What should I do? Where should I complaint against them?.

    • Gopala Krishna March 8, 2014 11:56 am

      Please check your paytm cash once, there you can automatically have failed transactions amount if amount deducted from bank.

      • Zeeshan March 8, 2014 12:26 pm

        No paytm cash credited. :-(

    • Parminder March 8, 2014 11:59 am

      paytm most genuine Recharge website, perhaps money is taken by the operator from paytm and not given you recharge.. send a tweet to them

  • Vikas March 8, 2014 11:38 am

    Docomo did the same some time ago. but Companies need not to worry. because unhonourable SC is nothing going to do until the current government is benifited.

    • Joy March 8, 2014 1:45 pm

      Information is not updated on operator’s website often. This is true not only for Aircel but also for others.

      • Kunal-West Bengal March 8, 2014 4:30 pm

        best offer on aircel is Rs 13 – all loc call 1.2/2s, for 30 days, and Rs 85- all loc a2a 1p/3s and a2all 1p/2s, for 90 days, nice na …..

        • Kunal-West Bengal March 8, 2014 4:32 pm

          and another nice offer sms offer- rs 1 -10 sms, 2 – 20 sms, 9-75 sms loc+std