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Hutch vs AirTel (Karnataka)

By: | Dec 10, 2003 11:36 AM
(Updated May 09, 2005 01:04 PM)

I recently shifted to Hutch Prepaid from AirTel (Karnataka). Here I’m giving a few comparisons of both networks as I experienced it for the benefit of those who would like to consider both services before deciding which one to choose.


I was with AirTel for two full years, but had to shift to hutch as I suffered a heavy betrayal of balance cut amounting to few hundred rupees in AirTel.


Network Strength: AirTel has better infra structure than hutch and is able to provide with better signal compared to the later. If you go out of Bangalore city limits for weekend or otherwise, chances are that hutch towers are not reachable.


Call charges: Hutch call charges are a bit cheaper than AirTel, though the difference may not be significant. STD on AirTel is 2.9 Rs/min while its 2.64 Rs in hutch. Local call charges are almost same (1 rs/min on AirTel while 99 paise in hutch for local gsm mobiles).


SMS: SMS charges are also almost same. Both are offering sms offers-100 free msgs per day at a daily rental of 1 rs in AirTel, 2 Rs in hutch. While AirTel charges another 1 Rs per day for AirTel one offers (out going calls at 1Rs/min). there’re several other offers as well in both networks, which keep changing from time to time. Any offer introduced by one will soon be copied by other with little or no modifications. Family and friends and several other offers to customers are floated frequently and withdrawn without prior notice.


In AirTel I used to get delivery reports as “pending” initially if the other mobile is not reachable and later “ Delivered” after delivery. In hutch I never got “pending” report but only “delivered” report after delivery though it took hours as the other mobile was not reachable.


Value added services: Both networks offer a wide range of VAS ranging from cricket to astrology to pizza to air tickets, both are voice based and are charged at Rs.6 per minute. I never tried them as its not economical for me.


Customer care: My major complaint with AirTel was its customer care. Getting connected to a customer care executive was never easy. Repeated attempts and long holding periods. Further most of the executives there were trained to confuse if they can’t convince. For a same concern, if you call three times, you’re most likely to get three different explanations as to why you’re not entitled for a particular benefit. If I call for a second time, I’ll have to repeat the whole story again to another executive. I was never allowed to talk with a supervisor or anyone in the second tier of customer service. They take 72 hours to update call details and another 48 hours to look into a complaint (that’s official time limit). Mistakes do happen, but what counts is how they attend to a crisis and rectify it. All in all, I was totally fed up with AirTel customer care.


My initial experience with Hutch care has been pleasant. They attend very quickly. I’ve not yet encountered any problems with hutch connections so as to test how customer care executives respond.


Billing: AirTel billing was quite efficient with some minor exceptions. I’ve not encountered any problems with hutch billing so far either.


Recharge: Hutch gives more talk time and validity compared to AirTel. For example, the 350 Rs recharge on AirTel fetches only Rs 167 talk time while it’s 193 Rs on hutch. Also for 45 days validity, you’ll have to invest Rs 600+ (I think Rs 661) in AirTel, while in hutch its 550 Rs. Both operators have wide network for selling recharge coupons and have tie ups with banks as well so as to enable ATM recharges.


Hutch has an option to convert talk time into validity, which you may use to reduce your monthly expense on mobile. You can extend validity by 5 or 10 or 20 days by sacrificing 25 or 50 or 100 Rs talk time respectively, which’s not heard of in AirTel.


Also a Rs 199 recharge coupon with 50 rs talk time valid for 30 days is introduced by hutch recently.


Sim card: AirTel friendz sim card has better storage space for SMS and phone numbers (30 msgs and 250 entries) than hutch sim card (10 msg and 150 entries). This of course is not a consideration if you’ve high end mobile handset which will have enough space to store msg and numbers. But for entry level handsets it counts.


Other services:


Hello tunes on AirTel-15Rs per song and monthly 30 Rs. Caller tunes in hutch: 30 rs for activation and 30 rs monthly rental. Call charges to select songs (6Rs/min) extra


Miss call alert: AirTel: 15Rs flat monthly rent, on Hutch: 2 Rs per alert.


Since my handset is not compatible I’ve not tried GPRS services and other high end applications.


AirTel cheated me in following occasions:




  1. Not informing changes in Validity: The validity for bank recharge on rs.324 was cut from 30 days to 15 days. No where this was advertised or informed and I lost 15 days of validity when I recharged for 324 in ATM unaware that I will have to recharge again in a fortnight. Anything beneficial to them is given full publicity and things that do not are not.




  2. Not honouring their commitment: AirTel announced an offer that whoever stays active without entering grace perioud from Jan 9 2005 to March 31 2005 will be awarded an extra talktime of Rs 100. I complied but wasn’t given the extra talk time. After hundreds of calls and complaints I was told that those who recharge through bank ATMs are not eligible for this offer, though this condition was never mentioned. Again I’d to perform another round of calls and complaints to get what I was entitled to.




  3. 64 k SIM card: I upgraded to 64k sim card as I was told it can store 50 messages and 400 entries in phone book. But think I was given 32 k sim, because it could hold only 30 msgs and 250 entries in phone book. All my attempts to get justice were useless.




  4. unjustified balance cut: I lost about 300 rs of talk time on a single day (8th march- seems to be some technical problem-some of my friends also faced the same problem and AirTel has promised to refund it but nothing was done in first 36 hours) I recharged for 441 Rs and got a talk time of 300.18 Rs, which kept coming down every half an hour or so by about 20-30 Rs though I never made any calls and be evening my balance was nil. I couldn’t send msgs, make calls. I called customer care and informed them that my balance is coming down rapidly and requested them to give an emergency consideration. I was told they need 72 hours to look into it. This was the last straw and I choose to bid good bye to AirTel for once and for all. May be they’ll refund but I’ve lost faith in their reliability.






Verdict: Hutch is advised for cost conscious customers and those who can manage with a slightly weak signal. You may choose AirTel if you think its six lakh plus AirTel customers in Karnataka can’t be wrong in making it number one and if you don’t mind occasional betrayals of various types. Coverage is better and you’ll enjoy the service, provided you don’t encounter the situations I’ve faced.


Disclaimer: Comments based on personal experience and view points. Individual results may differ. All info provided here may be changed without any notice by service providers. No liability is accepted for missing or incorrect info.



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