Two New Yorkers spend six months 18 months!?! in Bangalore and other places in India.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mobile Paperwork

Because of their possible use by terrorists and other unsavory elements, cell phones take a bit of paperwork to get. The government wants each phone traceable to an actual person, basically.

For this second India stay, I had to buy a new one, because I had lost mine just before we left Bangalore in July. Don still had his, but the number had expired from lack of use. So after buying a new one I also bought two new Airtel SIM cards. And that's when the fun began, because I had to provide the following:

  • 2 passport-size photos
  • passport and visa, for photocopying [my store was excellent, in that were able to do the photocopying themselves]
  • driver's license
  • signatures on just about everything, including on the highly restrictive terms of service, both of the photos, and on the photocopies
  • proof of address

It was that last bit that turned out to be a mess. I had an old letter from a foreign company that I thought would work, but I guess it wasn't good enough. Even less impressive was the delivery tag from the Netflix-for-India company 70mm. As a result, Airtel turned off our cell phones yesterday.

So today, Don and I went back to the Church Street store where I bought my phone, and he got to take a crack at filling out all the paperwork himself.

The best part of the "Prepaid Customer Enrolment Form" is a clause for farmers. In India, people who earn all their income through agriculture don't pay any income taxes, so they often don't have a tax number (I think this is true). Therefore there's a part of the form to sign if you're such a person. When I and then Don filled out our forms, the woman at the phone store tried to get us to sign that part. Luckily we both skipped it -- the last thing we need is the India government asking us where our coconut grove or rice paddys are.

Here's another account of a westerner getting a cell phone. It's interesting that he's also saying what several people told me today: it's a lot easier to get service through Hutch than through Airtel. But we still love you, Airtel, as long as you turn those phones back on!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

very good tererisum is the main problem of this time thanks for sharing this post