AirTel ‘Hello Tunes’ fiasco

My mobile operator (AirTel) has given me quite a few reasons to frown during the time I’ve been using their services. I’ve grown accustomed to their promotional messages, fluctuating call charges and poor signal reception in my locality. I don’t find it irritating any more to receive their pre-recorded advertisements masquerading as calls. I’ve learnt from experience. I’ve adapted.



In fact, now I have 3 contacts named AirTel 1, 2 & 3, each having 5 of their phone numbers so that the next time they call me, I’ll know better than to pick up the phone. I’ve even assigned the AirTel ad music (the one featuring A.R. Rehman) as their ringtone. With such detailed preparations, you’d think I’m well-equipped to handle anything that AirTel throws at me. After all, what more can they possibly do?

I found the answer to my question a couple of days ago.

The day began like any other, I’d just returned from my morning classes and was planning what to do next, when my cellphone rang. I’d got a message. It read along the lines of,

‘You have been subscribed to Hello Tunes… yada-yada-yada’.

It was from 543211, the AirTel Hello Tunes service. Must be some mistake, I thought. I didn’t subscribe to any such thing! Quickly checked my balance which was a princely sum of Rs. 5.41, just in case.

No damage done… yet.



After about 15 minutes, I got another message, this time from a 4-digit number saying,

‘Thank you for subscribing to the Hello Tunes service. Your monthly charge of Rs.30 has been deducted from your account balance…….’.

What the….???? A quick reality-check confirmed my fears. My balance stood at Rs.-24.59.

Collateral damage.

Now here I was, my balance in the red, cellphone rendered useless and my fist trembling with anger. I called up their customer care number from my AirTel landline (yes, I know) and after navigating through their maze of menus, finally reached a customer service representative. I somehow controlled my language and my voice as I explained my problem to her. The lady checked up the records but my balance had not been updated there yet. Great. She told me to call up after 20 minutes while the records get sorted out. Gee, thanks.

Patience is not a virtue that I possess, so I called up again after just 10 minutes. This time some bloke was on the other end and I had to do the explaining all over again. Thankfully, their records had been updated so it was plain obvious what i was complaining about. After a few checks, he redirected me to a higher authority where I had to rewind & play once more. I was put on hold for 4-5 minutes and finally assured that my caller tune would be deactivated and my balance would be returned!!


5 minutes later, I got the confirmation –

‘You have been unsubscribed from the Hello Tunes service…..’.

A few more minutes and my balance was back as well! Muahahahaha!!! Take that, you capitalist leech!

So in a nutshell, I got subscribed to a service that I didn’t even request for, they took away me money and left me in the lurch! And the fact that they didn’t put the blame on me – the customer – speaks volumes about this goof-up.

But what actually went wrong? No answers to this one.


6 thoughts on “AirTel ‘Hello Tunes’ fiasco

  1. Glad to hear, you got your balance back.
    I hate the CC of every telecom companies, they never seem to be helpful. Your’s case has been a different though.

    Recently on 18 July Airtel(Mumbai) went down due to fire in their servers & it took them 15 days to resume the services.

    Still now it’s not up to the mark.

  2. I wanted to deactivate airtel gprs connection..sent the correct deactivation sms and got a cofirmation sms that the service will be deacvtd i 4hrs. Next day Rs. 14.95 was deducted for gprs. I was patient ..but the followig day again the amt was deducted. I cofirmed with airtel cust care and they told me there might have been some problem with server. And the for the next 8-9 days or so I repeatedly sent the deactiavtion sms reqst (and got a confirmation sms) but the service was still active and my amnt deducted. I called cust care and asked them to repay me the amnt giving them details of the exact time and date when i first sent the deactivation sms. The cust care guy refused saying there is no provision to repay in this case. I asked him what was my fault and he disconnected!!
    I called again and then another customer care person told me they would not refund. I challenged him airtel will *have* to refund and that I’ll approach the consumer court.
    I then filed an online complaint (complaint reference Id 8706/4/2007. ) with CORE (

    Within a weeks time somebody (relationship manager or someone..) from airtel called and apologised and the amount I metioned in the complaint was repaid ..upto two places of decimal 🙂

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