OTF Exclusive Prepaid International Roaming: Rules, T&Cs, Tips & Tricks, Hidden Charges

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10 Nov 2017
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Hi Guys, For the benefit of all, I am explaining International Roaming Terms and Conditions for Prepaid Mobile Numbers followed by Airtel and Vodafone. For all references henceforth, SIM / Sim Card refers to Airtel or Vodafone Prepaid only.

1. International Roaming is FREE.
Yes, it does not have any Monthly Rental or activation required. If you go abroad and insert your SIM Card in your handset, you will start getting network, and they will send some few Welcome texts. There are no charges for this.

2. Incoming SMS is FREE during International Roaming.
Yes, there are no charges for receiving text messages when you are on an International Roaming Network. This is a good case for receiving OTP messages for any activity you may want to do on Indian Websites while you are abroad.

3. Conditions of Charging while in International Roaming.
If you do any chargeable activity, only then a Rental of Rs 99 (valid for next 30 days), will be deducted from your main balance. Chargeable activity is defined as:
  • Making an Outgoing Call
  • Receiving an Incoming Call
  • Sending a text message or MMS
  • Starting Mobile Internet / Mobile Data
If you do none of these activities, you can still keep receiving incoming SMS for FREE all the while, irrespective of duration and the main balance.

4. Important Tips
Before you insert your India SIM Card while abroad, make sure your handset has Mobile Internet as OFF. Otherwise the SIM will use data as soon as you turn handset ON and you will get charged Rs 99 as monthly rental.

5. CAUTION! Be aware of hidden charges.
Checking your balance or validity using USSD Codes (*141# for Vodafone) and (*123# for Airtel) is FREE OF CHARGE*
However, the whole intention of writing this post was to warn Vodafone users in specific. I got charged Rs 99 although I did not do any Chargeable activity. I raised a complaint with Vodafone and they started off with all their excuses
Excuses made by Vodafone:
-> International Roaming is charged Rs 99 by default (LIES!)
-> When you insert your SIM, you will get charges Rs 99 (LIES!)
-> Incoming SMS is charged (LIES!)
-> You used data when you inserted your SIM Card as Mobile Internet was ON (LIES!)

* The real reason: Using USSD Codes uses Mobile Internet even if your Mobile Internet is set to OFF, only in certain makes of handsets. I have observed this in India was well in Motorla Phones, Micromax Phones and OnePlus phones.
MyVodafone App usage history showed data usage as 0.00MB and the Vodafone customer care argued i have used "0.00MB" data.

I argued that using 0.00MB data is NOT a chargeable activity. If it is, tell me the charges- they did not have an answer. I fought with them and finally got a refund of Rs 99 as they were not able to answer my question of what "chargeable activity" was done by me.

So remember, if you get charged Rs 99 - it should be accompanied by some other charge like data usage, or call usage etc. Only deduction of Rs 99 without any usage is illegal and is being done silently by Vodafone.

I checked with my friends, and all of them said that they always get charged Rs 99 whenever they turn on mobile abroad (for OTP etc.) By following the tips above, you can avoid getting charged Rs 99 and continue to receive incoming SMS.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have related to International Roaming for Prepaid - Airtel and Vodafone.

Terms and Conditions - International Roaming for Vodafone:

Terms and Conditions - International Roaming for Airtel:

Prepaid international roaming call rate to some countries in various Indian mobile operators as on 21-08-2020. See the attached files.
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