Some residents have complained of being woken up by an SMS that they thought was important. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Residents have expressed frustration and irritation over text messages from retailers and advertisers received at inappropriate times during the night.

People say that sometime they woke up late night due to such spam messages.

Muduvai Hidayath, an executive in a Dubai-based trading company and media relations manager of the Indian Muslim Association that handles community issues, told Gulf News, that a few days ago he was woken up by an SMS that he thought was important.

“In my capacity at the Association, I look into the procedures involving deaths and related functions like repatriation, burial or cremation of the body. So when my phone beeped at 2.35am, I responded immediately. I was angry to read a message from a mall retailer, offering me a discount with a promotion code,” he said.

The same text message was sent to him a few days prior.

He said turning his phone on silent is not an option. “I have to handle emergency cases, and need to be available at all times. Advertisers should think about the customers’ privacy. Telecom authorities should take necessary steps too,” he said.

Max Edward, an advertising professional in Dubai said marketers are unaware of the damage spam messages can cause to their brands.

He told Gulf News: “Last week I received two promo texts in the wee hours of the morning. Retailers and advertisers should consider the convenience of the customer. Also, this form of marketing could be counterproductive as potential customers can form negative associations with a particular brand.”

Jo Sam, a Dubai-based architect and wife of an electrical engineer is all too familiar with the inconvenience caused by late night SMS. She told Gulf News: “I keep my phone in a different room when I retire to bed. My husband on the other hand prefers to keep it near his bedside, and has been disturbed several times by an SMS, usually from stores he shops at. It can be frustrating because he cannot go back to sleep, and has an early morning, long commute to work. I realise that many people use their phones to set their alarm; it would be better to buy a clock instead of being disturbed.”

These are but a few complaints. Several residents have been losing sleep over the untimely text messages.

Gulf News contacted the telecommunications service providers in the UAE to find out if such complaints were addressed.

Etisalat Customer Service Agent Zianab Al Hamadi said that she receives a few calls from customers complaining about spam SMS.

“I advise them to block spam providers by sending ‘b etisalat’ via SMS to 7726. If they have tried this and failed, I ask them to complain directly to the retailer.”

Du Customer Service Agent Shilpa De told Gulf News, “Du customers who do not wish to receive promotions from Du need to send a blank SMS to 5293. Those who wish to unsubscribe from third-party senders, need to send the letter ‘b’ followed by a space and the name of the third-party to 7726.”

A spokesperson from the telecommunications company said: “Etisalat requests Business customer to abide by restrictions.

For instance, a business customer shall not send marketing electronic communication to their clients between 9pm to 7am. However this condition doesn’t apply if the client himself/herself requests for some information/content outside the defined period such as withdrawing of money from ATM and receiving the transaction confirmation through SMS.

Condition only apply in case of marketing electronic communication that confirm sending messages during the period from 9pm to 7am.”

The spokesperson also said that etisalat implemented the anti-spam platform to protect the end client from unsolicited electronic communication, “Clients can block any unwanted adverting message by texting specific characters to a short code; a customer can totally block all adverting messages by texting ‘Ball’ to short code 7726.”