Cancellation of Airtel Prepaid SIM involves blocking SIM and waiting for 90 days of no usage for automatic disconnect of Airtel number

As mentioned in a previous post, Unhappy experience with Airtel Rs. 1500 cashback offer on Karbonn A40 smartphone; Internet Speed Tests with A40 + Airtel AND JioFi3 Router + Jio,, last updated on 4th Feb. 2018, I had returned the Karbonn A40 phone and Airtel SIM to the vendor a few days back (on or around 25th Jan. 2018).

I was effectively returned the money for both Karbonn A40 phone as well as Airtel SIM & plan, by the vendor in Puttaparthi. I was very satisfied by this kind co-operation of Puttaparthi vendor. He said that the cancellation of Airtel SIM will take some time but that the process has been initiated from his side.

On 4th Feb. 2018, he told me that the cancellation of SIM has been done as the Airtel distributor/officer/contact had returned the money for Airtel SIM and first Airtel plan to him which he thought implied that the SIM has been cancelled.

On 5th Feb., I wrote to Airtel support email id, seeking confirmation that Airtel had cancelled my Airtel SIM 9xxx and that the number is no longer associated with my name and Aadhar number.

I got a call from Airtel support on 6th Feb. in the morning where I was told that the number is still active in my name as a prepaid connection! I requested an email response with this info. which I could then forward to the vendor.

I got the email a little while later, forwarded it to the Puttaparthi vendor, and spoke to him over phone about it. He said he would check with his Airtel officer/contact/distributor.

When I visited him in the evening he said that he now had my Airtel SIM with him (perhaps the Airtel distributor returned it to him). He told me that the Airtel distributor/officer told him that cancellation is a long process …

To cut a long story short, in front of me, the vendor called up Airtel support and asked them about this cancellation. He later passed the phone to me. I spoke to the support person who then put me on to her supervisor. I explained the matter again to the supervisor expressing my desire to cancel the SIM.

The supervisor told me that such an option is not available. Instead he said that he could block the SIM now and that the SIM number would automatically get allocated to some other SIM after 3 months (without recharge). So that’s the option I took.

After finishing the call, the vendor helped me confirm that my Airtel SIM and number had been blocked by attempting to call from a phone with that SIM, which did not go through. Then he attempted to call my Airtel SIM number to which he got the message that the number is not valid.

I wrote to Airtel email support about this and sought a confirmation email from them that the number is blocked. I also wrote the following in the email to them:

I will be keeping the SIM with me (the vendor gave it back to me) in a safe place for three months. After that I will check whether the SIM number has been allotted to somebody else. If so, then I would know that the number is no longer associated with my name. That would then effectively be a cancellation of this Airtel SIM associated with my name.

So this is the process I will be following for the effective cancellation of my Airtel SIM.
— end extract of my mail to Airtel suppport —

I got a call from Airtel support today (7th Feb.) morning. The support person first confirmed that I wanted to do this cancellation and then essentially agreed that the process I have mentioned above is the right one for cancellation.

I sought an email response from her as a record, which she agreed to, and which I received a little while later. The mail confirmed that the Airtel number has been blocked. It further said that the (my) Airtel number would disconnect if there is no usage on it for 90 days, and the account does not have Rs. 20 or above balance, for service extension of 30 days which has a charge of Rs. 20. [As of now, I think my Airtel number/account has 0 Rupees balance, and, of course, I plan to keep it that way.]

At that time the mail indicated (using slightly confusing words) that my service would be disconnected permanently.

So what I need to do now is to put the SIM card in a safe place to prevent any inadvertent usage of it by anybody. Then wait till around a few days after 7th of April 2018, say 10th of April 2018, and on that day, send an email to Airtel seeking confirmation that my Airtel number has been permanently disconnected. I was told that after that permanent disconnection, the number would be recycled to be used by another, new I guess, SIM card.

Hmm. What a complicated process to cancel the Airtel prepaid mobile number! I wanted to understand this process and want to confirm that my name is not associated with the number after 90 days non-usage, due to security considerations associated with mobile SIM numbers (in India).

Ideally speaking, the process to disconnect a mobile number should be simpler and quicker, especially as (Indian) government has introduced strict identity checks with mobile numbers. But I don’t want to spend time on trying to push for such changes in the process for disconnection of a mobile number in Airtel. Perhaps it is similar in other mobile service provider companies in India too, but I am not sure about that.

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