Idea versus Vodafone in India

Final Score:

Live in India?  Looking to get a new SIM card?  Before you buy, read our comparison below!

Having had both Pre-Paid and Post-Paid SIM cards from both Idea and Vodafone during the last few years, we feel qualified to share our experiences with you.

As you will read below, while Vodafone’s service is professional and informative, Idea’s customer service is terrible; at best disinterested and uncaring but, arguably, ethically questionable with Sales Executives miss selling products and a total disregard for your consumer’s rights.

Apart from miss selling their products, the simple fact remains that Idea’s 3G service is a very, very long way off what they advertise.  While you can regularly see speeds in excess of 3 or 4 megabits per second on the Vodafone 3G network (in fact we often clock over 7mb per second on Vodafone), you struggle to get anywhere near 1 megabit per second on Idea’s 3G data network - in fact, for much of the time we experienced Internet speeds just about acceptable on a 2G service; while paying for a 3G service!

“No Ullu Banaoing TVC” ??  It seems to me that Idea is the one trying to fool you …

As you’ll see by the Final Score, you’re better off with a ZooZoo!

Want to know more?  Read on …

Initial Sales:


Immediately you walk into one of Vodafone’s Customer Care centres you can see the professionalism and importance that Vodafone places on serving its customers.  The showrooms are smart, clean and efficient and fit well with a 21st century global mobile provider.  The staff are informative, helpful and efficient and, if you do have any problems, they are always ready to help resolve them.


Walking into one of Idea’s sales shops is, sadly, totally different - cramped, dirty, hot and stuffy is the only way to describe them.  While I have, once, been served by an energetic and helpful Sales Executive, most of the service I have received in various Idea branches has been extremely poor.

Having had a number of problems with Idea’s services, you quickly learn that returning to one of their stores is not the way to resolve the issue - once they’ve sold you the SIM they really aren’t interested.  Having said that, I’ve never had an issue resolved by Idea at all - not in the stores and not over the phone and the same goes for a number of other people I have spoken to.



Right from the start, it becomes clear that the Vodafone Sales staff know their product and they take care to inform you of any limitations and restrictions.  They’re welcoming, yet professional, and give you confidence that your custom is important to them.


While I can accept a less smart and less professional sales service, what I cannot accept is when sales staff do not know (or, more likely, choose not to tell you) about various limitations and restriction - especially when the result of not disclosing these facts ends up costing you more money.  Being generous you might put it down to poor sales staff not being aware of what they are selling.  However, I would suggest that the issue runs deeper and highlights serious questions about Idea’s sales ethics!   So, being generous, lets just assume the staff are useless and the company isn’t trying to rip you off - but they still only get one star.

Quality of Data Services:

Service can be broken down into two areas; 1) the quality of the actual data services and the quality of the “human” after-care service.  We’re not concerned with the normal Voice and SMS services here as there’s not a huge difference in the quality of calls or the speed in which an SMS gets delivered.  However, on both the “human” service and the Data services, there’s a huge difference.


Unless you are unlucky enough to be in an area with poor reception like the seaside in Goa, for example, Vodafone’s coverage and download/upload 3G speeds are very good indeed.  We often get between 5 and 7 megabits per second download speed and I have known up to 10 megabits per second.  Upload speeds (unless the upload speed is throttled by your own device - the 1Phone 3Gs for example) are also very impressive and are usually pretty similar to the download speeds. Despite constantly testing out the competition (so we have a backup system) no other provider comes anywhere near this level of service.


While Idea may advertise a “super fast” service, I’ve never seen evidence of this in the “real world”.  In fact, many of the tests we did (on their 3G network) produced results that were not much better than a 2G network! If you question them on this, the sales staff seem to think that because Idea quotes “up to” 21mbps, then that is what you get … which only goes to demonstrate just what a poor understanding their staff have of data services in general. Idea can claim to provide any top speed they want, but what matters in reality is what speed you actually get … and its not good!

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