Dec 22, 2012

The Great Etisalat Customer Service

Dear Customer, You have currently 96.55 MB left in your  "1GB Mobile Broadband" package. Additional charges will apply on exceeding your data package limit. To subscribe to higher package please call 101.

Life was going on nicely in the UAE when I got this text. Naturally, I switch off images to save data, and open Facebook just once daily to minimize data usage. The additional charges are not like the ones in India which are perhaps ₹ 0.80 per MB (BSNL) - they are 1 AED per MB, which rounds off to around ₹ 15! After thinking for some time, the only feasible option for me- UPGRADE. These are my calls to 101(aka Customer Service).

Call #1 - I am instructed to go to an Etisalat Outlet to upgrade my plan.

I figure perhaps I need to clear the previous bill for the upgrade. So I go the Etisalat Outlet, pay the bill and request them to upgrade it. The representative, after making sure I am who I say I am, agrees to do so by ‘a few hours’. I come back happy. 4 hours pass, no confirmation. I call again.

Call #2 - I am instructed to wait for 24 hours
Call #3 - By this time, my patience has become pretty thin. As no upgrade request appears corresponding to my number, I am instructed to send “M5G” to 1010 to activate the 5 GB plan. (Cost of message- 0.3 AED, that is well, ₹ 5!)

Call #4 – After another anxious few hours, I make another call. I am told I have done everything right on my part but they are going through a ‘System Upgrade.’ I ask them tentatively how long can it possibly take and would it be done by the night? I get a cool reply- ‘No guarantees, Sir.

Call #5- Another sad 48 hours later, I make a call. I am instructed to send “C M1G” to 1010 to cancel the existing 1GB plan first, wait for two hours for confirmation, and then send “M5G” to 1010. (each message costing 0.3 AED) I am also instructed to not connect to the internet during the transition period as it would cost me AED 20 per MB during that time (I don’t think you have the guts to use an internet connection that costs you ₹ 300 per MB).

Call #6- Three long hours after sending the cancellation request, I am told that the only way to upgrade is by visiting an Etisalat Outlet as I am requesting an upgrade in the middle of the month. Why on earth would the representatives answering my calls #3 to #5 tell me to do otherwise?

Call #7 - I make another call just to make sure connecting to the net and making this blog post won’t cost me millions. Turns out, even though I sent the cancellation request, it is perhaps going to be treated as a ‘technical error’.

As The Oatmeal posted sometime back on - Why I’d rather be punched in the testicles rather than call customer service?, I feel exactly the same right now.

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