In a move to offer freedom to its postpaid subscribers, Bharti Airtel in 2013 had introduced myPlan – a personalised postpaid plan that allows customers to choose and pay for the services they need. Last year the company launched an extension of the myPlan scheme, myPlan for family. The new plan allows sharing call and data plans within family members.
Airtel ‘myPlan for Family’, on paper, looks like an interesting proposition but in reality it forces the family member to lose their identity.
In order to decode the plan and understand the real benefits (or lack of it) for individual family members, we visited Airtel store and also spoke to Airtel’s customer care (Airtel CC) executive on 121 (Airtel’s customer care number). The result of this exercise was an eye opener. Here are the details of our conversation.
Me: Can you please tell me what is Airtel myPlan for Family?
Airtel CC: Sure Sir. Are you an existing Airtel postpaid subscriber?
Airtel CC: Airtel myPlan for family is a postpaid plan which can be customised as per the needs of the family members. One can add upto six members in this plan which includes the primary number. There are five rental plans between Rs 599 to Rs 1,599 that you can choose.
Me: What is a primary number?
Airtel CC: Sir, in the plan family members won’t get separate bills instead there will be a consolidated bill and it will be issued in the name of the person who will pay the bill. This person is the primary member and the other connections are called as ‘child account’.
Me: How will it work?
Airtel CC: Sir for example if you opt for Rs 599 plan you will get 20 packs free which you can choose from seven categories- 3G, 2G, local/national SMS, local calling, STD, outgoing roaming and US/UK/Canada calling, as per your and your family’s needs.
After doing so, you can add upto five family members to your plan, at Rs 99 per member. Also, within the family members you will get free calls.
Me: Sounds interesting. I will go for it. I want to add numbers of my father, mother and wife in the family plan?
Airtel CC: Sir, are all of them postpaid subscribers of Airtel?
Airtel CC: Are all the numbers on your name?
Me: No but our address is same.
Airtel CC: In that case, first you have to transfer all the numbers on your name for that you have a fill a transfer form along with that you have to submit an NOC (no objection certificate) from the current users and once it is done, new SIM cards will be issued. The new SIMs will retain the old number and once they get activated, which will usually take about 30 minutes, you can request for activating myPlan for Family and avail the benefits.
Me: So you are saying to me that my family members have to lose their identity if they want to be part of this plan?
Airtel CC: Yes Sir. The plan has been designed in such a way only.
Me: Okay. If tomorrow one of my family member uses his phone to do some illegal activity like making a hoax call about a bomb somewhere, will I be held responsible for it as the number is on my name?
Airtel CC: Yes sir.
Me: So basically it is not a family plan instead it’s a plan in which if I have five SIMs from Airtel that I can share with my family members and they can use it without bothering about the bill.
Aitel CC: Yes sir.
Me; Thanks but no thanks.
So, if we analyse the above conversation, each family member I add in myPlan for Family have to give up their individual identity and what they do with the number, good or bad, I will be held responsible. Also, since Airtel does not verify the relationship between the members before activating the plan, practically I can include anyone like friends, colleauges or relatives in the plan.
Airtel on its website defined the plan as: “Families share everything. Yet, when it comes to mobile plans, everyone has their own. And you end up paying that much more. Which is why Airtel myPlan for family. A postpaid plan that is all about sharing and saving. You pick the rental & choose the free benefits that each family member needs. Then include your family in the plan at just Rs. 99 per member and start sharing. This ensures that none of your plan benefits go unutilised & you even save on your family’s mobile expenses.”
Strangely, nowhere on its website or its definition, Airtel has mentioned that all the numbers that anyone plans to add to ‘myPlan for family’ have to be on the same name. Isn’t it misleading? At best this plan can be called as ‘myPlan for multiple numbers’ otherwise it is a farce.