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Airtel sells your cell number :-/

Submitted by Karthik on 21 November, 2005 - 12:39

Sequence of events:

  • September 2005: I suffer from a congenital (sic) dislike (hate is probably an appropriate word as well) of mobile phones, and as such don't encourage people ringing me - email/IM me I always tell them. But, nevertheless I got myself a new Airtel cell on one of their cheap as chips plans. This phone is primarily a phone that I keep only for dialling out, and therefore its number is a closely guarded secret :P
  • Just before my connection is activated, this "dude" comes home on the pretext of verifying my address (which I suppose is understandable). I tell him "Yeah, this is me, and this is where I live - thank you. You can approve my connection now. Good bye".

    But he's not satisfied. He then wanted to know whether I lived in a rented house, what I did for a living, where I worked, what my salary was etc. etc. So I ask him wtf do you want to know all that for and what's this got to do with my cell phone connection.. No concrete reply. So I tell him to find out and then ask me again. He never returns, but my connection is activated the next day.

    This doesn't necessarily have any connection with the issue at hand, but nevertheless, I'm just painting a li'l background of Airtel's modus operandi, and their idea of ethical business practice.

  • Once my connection has been activated, I call up the Airtel call centre and ask for all incoming SMS-es to be disabled. After a number of calls and much passing around from person to person, I finally get this chap with a memorably mangled American accent who informs me that this can be done by sending an SMS to them saying "Deactivate SMS", and all SMS-es besides Airtel's billing reminders would be disabled. I was told this would happen within a few days, but this eventually happened only on Nov. 1 when I received a confirmation SMS informing me that SMS-es had been disabled on my cell. I haven't tested whether this has been done, but as of yet (fingers crossed) I haven't been spammed besides the afore mentioned billing reminders..
  • I also ask them not to list my number in any directories, and to not make any (airtel or other) marketing calls to my phone. They say that this never happens and I shouldn't be worried.
  • 10:30 a.m. October 7: I get a call from some unknown number and upon answering find somebody asking me (by name) to get myself a shiny Citibank something something.

    Now, I *hate* mobile phones. But I absolutely *loathe* telemarketeers.

    The best way IMNSHO to handle these guys is not by yelling at the caller, but by asking for his/her supervisor (and screaming your lungs out at them if need be). So, upon requesting to speak to a supervisor, I get this guy named R.M. Kavitha (yes, a guy named Kavitha.. obligatory *snicker* inserted). I tell him how ticked off I am that they called me yada yada and ask for their (call centre) details which he is happy to provide. They are as follows:

    • Call centre: Invest One
    • Address: 11 Club House Road, Opposite Spencer's Plaza on Mount Road (Chennai)
    • I asked him where he got my number from, and he informed me that Airtel had provided it (and other numbers) in the form of a database, that they use to call people.

    So, I ask him to delete my number from their database etc and hang up.

  • In my infinite wisdom, I deign to not note down the number that the call was made from :( I don't think that's hurt me yet, but nevertheless.. :(
  • 11:00 a.m Same day: I call up Airtel and ask to speak to a supervisor there. I get this lady named "Celine Pearl" (I don't know what the deal is with all these weird/unusual names nowadays..). She feigns shock, denial and abject horror at the thought that Airtel could have shared my mobile number with anyone else leave alone a telemarketeer. A few more empathic murmurings later, she promises to look into this and get back to me very soon.
  • 1 month and 14 days later I am yet to receive that call back. I've called Airtel three times since, asking for her to call me back.. to no avail..
  • 19 Nov: I receive a call from Airtel's marketing division asking me to buy some new rubbish :/
  • So, that's about where this saga stands at present. I intend to call Airtel again tomorrow and start yelling to get some action.




24 Nov: 3:15: Spoke to another supervisor at Airtel named Jayashree who assured me that I am apparently going to be receiving an apology letter that also will categorically state that neither will my number ever be shared with any partners or third parties, nor will Airtel themselves ever make any marketing calls to my number..

And she is going to get back to me within a week..


Airtel *may* not be responsible for this, but there was no way of verifying this:

29 Nov: 3:55 pm

I get a call from +91 44 5536 9742. A woman starts giving me her spiel about some new scheme from Aircel [not Airtel]. She didn't give me her name, nor did she address me by mine. When I asked her which call centre she was calling from she said something to the effect of "Ullagaram" Sales Centre. I pressed her further and she hung up..


+91 44 4218 7784

Woman says that she's calling from ICICI. I ask her where she got my number from and she tells me that she just dialled it at random. Hangs up before I can question her more..