"Differential Tariffs"

Mobile telephone service providers in India usually have differential tariffs for calls terminating in a different provider's network or a different kind of network, e.g. calls from XYZ provider to ABC provider are more expensive than calls from XYZ to XYZ, and calls from a GSM network to a CDMA network are charged higher than calls to another GSM network. In addition, inter-circle ("STD") calls are more expensive than intra-circle (local) calls.

Now here's the thing. How the heck am I supposed to know whether a number I'm calling is a Reliance, Indicom, Airtel, Hutch/Vodafone, Spice, Idea, BSNL, MTNL or whateverthehellelse? Not only that, how am I supposed to know whether it's a local number or an outstation number? All I see on my caller ID is +91-9xxxxxxxxx.

At least landline numbers are recognizable since they have an STD code. There's no such fixed scheme with mobiles. Well, there is, sort of. But consider this, I get a call from an unknown number, say +919742xxxxxx which I'm unable to attend. To call back, I have no idea what circle and what provider a 9742xxxxxx number would belong to, and no way of finding out (I mean other than calling back and asking). So would it be a local call or an STD calls? Would it be free since I have XYZ-XYZ calls free? How should I know? How am I supposed to find out? 

Soon, the concept of change-providers-but-keep-your-number is going to be introduced in India. What happens to the differential tariffs then? Someone who had an XYZ connection and who you could call for free, might have changed providers without your knowledge and you would end up with a hefty phone bill when you call them up thinking "hey, it's free". A conversation might go like this -- "hey, what connection you have? Oh, ABC? I thought you were with XYZ... Oh I see, you've changed providers! Sorry, Imma haveta hang up, it's expensive for me to call you. Kthxbai!"

My solution: Get rid of this differential tariff system altogether. All calls/messages from anywhere in India to ANY phone anywhere in India (a +91 number) should be charged uniformly. If I may dare to suggest some numbers -- calls at 30ps-1Re/min, messages at 10ps-50ps/sms.

And what's with the high sms charges on "special occasions" like Christmas? Don't get me started on tariffs while on roaming -- that's a rant for another day.

Customer is king? More like "Customer is (for fuc)king (over)".  

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