Dear Airtel, Voda, Jio: Stop punishing your postpaid users by asking them to pay more

Dear Airtel, Voda, Jio: Stop punishing your postpaid users by asking them to pay more

Postpaid users pay more than prepaid users when it comes to monthly rentals. Some, even as they are aware of it, choose to stick with the plans.

Story highlights
  • Prepaid plans cost relatively less than postpaid plans when monthly rentals are compared.
  • Prepaid plans allow users to get plans with up to 365 days validity.
  • Postpaid plans charge users on monthly cycles and offer family connections.

After nearly a year of hints and speculations, telecom companies Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) announced their tariff hikes for prepaid plans. The last time tariff hikes were announced was in December 2019. Jio, as of now, has not yet made any announcement regarding the tariff hikes, but analysts speculate that can also happen soon.

The Airtel and Vi tariff hikes were announced for prepaid plans with a maximum price bump of Rs 500 on annual plans. Moreover, the 3GB daily data prepaid plans recently saw a hike due to a change in their Disney+ Hotstar benefits and so were not included as part of the tariff hikes.

But despite the recent tariff changes, the prepaid plans ask less from the users than that of the postpaid plans, at least when the individual postpaid plans are considered.

Apart from the monthly rental, there's also the tax bit that's applicable on the amount for postpaid users. So, for example, if you opt for a Rs 399 postpaid plan, your bill will most likely be around Rs 460. However, several users choose to stick to postpaid plans as loyalists, but why? We asked a few postpaid users, and here's what they said.

"I used to use Jio postpaid till 2017, after which I switched to prepaid. It is not easy to control the expenses or bills when you use postpaid. I switched to prepaid because I could control the money spent on calls better," Sharad Shukla, a retired Army Officer, said. "However, one advantage of postpaid I experienced was that in places like Ladakh, it is the only connection that works, while prepaid phones don't. So, when my family and I had gone there for a vacation, mine was the only connection that was working," he added.

Some postpaid users are aware of the added expenses they have to bear with postpaid plans but still opt for it regardless. Sanjay Utwal, a lawyer, said, "I use the Rs 499 Airtel postpaid plan because my data needs keep fluctuating in a day, and I did not want a daily limit on my plan. Besides, in corporate life, I have noticed that it is beneficial to have a postpaid SIM due to the volatile nature of prepaid plans." Anant Singh, a gaming enthusiast, also a postpaid user, noted that he is subscribed to the Rs 999 Airtel postpaid plan since it also offers family connections. "I am subscribed to the Rs 999 postpaid plan. My dad, my mom, and I are using the same connection, and I found the customer service better since I switched to postpaid."

Tariq Ahmed, a businessman, noted that he has been using the same Vodafone postpaid SIM for the past 20 years. "It was called BPL earlier. It is a matter of habit, I guess. I am registered with that number everywhere and find it more reliable. I realise I have to pay more, but the network is consistent with my number," he said.

Prepaid users enjoy the flexibility

Several users understand the benefits and flexibility they get on prepaid recharge plans over a postpaid plan. Such is the case with Tolaram Kungwani, a businessman who used an Airtel postpaid SIM for two years before switching to prepaid in 2020. "I thought it was better for me to have a daily data limit per day along with streaming benefits which I was getting for less. Previously I had the Rs 499 Airtel postpaid plan that gave 75GB of data for a month. My budget to spend per month was under Rs 500, and I was getting more benefits with the prepaid plan, so I thought I would make the switch."

Simran Ramesh, a dentist, noted that she gets an annual plan for Vodafone and is happy with it. "I don't have the hassle to recharge every month, and my requirements remain pretty much the same, so I subscribe to the Rs 2399 prepaid plan. I don't plan to switch to postpaid." Postpaid plans don't offer the benefit of annual plans to users or even validities that would last them for more than a month, like 56 days and 84 days. However, the plans, even though they have a monthly rental, give the benefit of data rollover to users, which is absent with prepaid plans.

Jio recently launched freedom prepaid plans that do not have a daily data limit but offer fewer data. Airtel and Vi, too, offer such prepaid plans and allow users to consume the required data within the limit. While Airtel has four postpaid plans, Vodafone Idea offers nine postpaid plans -- four individual and five family plans-- with the addition of Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar with the premium plans. However, users are required to pay for a lock-in period of six months, before which, if they exit the postpaid plan, they will be required to pay Rs 3,000 as exit fees. Jio recently introduced five postpaid plus plans starting at Rs 399 and going up to Rs 1499 along with streaming benefits like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Jio's postpaid plans give more data and streaming benefits as compared to Airtel and Vi. However, Jio users are required to pay Rs 99 extra to get access to the Prime benefit.