March 11, 2008


The farce called Toll Free Numbers

Quick question. When was the last time you dialled a toll-free number in India? Congratulations, if your answer is not a "never," as it is for me. Reason is simple. Toll Free numbers work only from BSNL and MTNL landlines. In India, you have a landline at home only if you are old-fashioned or rich or both. The landline subscriber base (33 mn) is a small fraction of the mobile subscribers in India (240 mn) and the gap continues to widen as these two numbers are moving in opposite direction. So, a company spends time and money to setup and advertise the toll-free number to reach a small subset of their potential customers. Nice story for a Dilbert strip!

BTW, have you wondered why these numbers start with 1-800? Well, it has been blindly copied from USA, including the country code. That imitation is quite embarrassing for our country.

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