I signed up for a etisalat postpaid connection in 2015, and for an iPhone 6 Plus contract on the same postpaid number. At the end of my iPhone 6 Plus contract, I fully owned the iPhone and so, decided to start a new contract on the same number, with an iPhone 7 Plus.

On completing the iPhone 6 Plus contract, I visited the etisalat centre at Dubai Mall. The etisalat agent informed me that they were unable to add the new iPhone 7 Plus onto my existing number. A clear reason wasn’t given to me for this, except that the issue was ‘technical’.

I didn’t think much of it at the time and asked what my options were. I was told at the time that the iPhone 7 Plus could be added to my postpaid line, but separately. I clarified if it meant I would need to get a new Sim card with a new phone number? I was told that I didn’t need to do all that and I would just get the bill for the monthly phone contract, along with the bill for my original postpaid number (similar to how I previously paid for my iPhone 6 Plus). I was also told the amount for the new iPhone would get auto-deducted from my credit card every month and that at the end of 12 months, I would be able to upgrade to the latest iPhone, since I was being signed up on the iPhone-for-life programme for free.

I was happy with the arrangement. I signed a new 18-month contract, and walked out of the shop with the brand new iPhone 7 Plus.

Little did I know, what the agent did was sign me up for a ‘zero plan’ contract on a new phone number for my iPhone 7 Plus. So in reality, I had my original postpaid number with monthly voice and data plan active, as well as an additional postpaid phone number that was running the iPhone 7 Plus contract only (so only device, no voice).

Another 12 months later, I wanted to upgrade to the new iPhone X, since I was on the iPhone-for-life programme. I was now being told by the new etisalat agent that it was not possible for me to upgrade to iPhone-for-life. He gave me the reasoning that I was on a ‘zero plan’. I was basically being told that I was on an ‘only device, no voice’ plan, which was illegally sold to me by the previous agent.

I was distraught and asked what my options were. I was told that I could finish the contract on the iPhone 7 Plus and then apply for a new iPhone X or I could simply buy the iPhone X on my original postpaid number and continue paying monthly for both phones. So in the last two days, I visited six different etisalat stores just to figure out who could upgrade my phone to the iPhone-for-life programme. Finally, out of frustration and the feeling of being cheated, I walked into the nearest etisalat store and just paid off the entire contract remaining on the iPhone 7 Plus. I requested the agents to cancel this ‘only device, no voice’ postpaid number from my account because I never wanted it in the first place. This extra number was sold to me based on false pretence and I didn’t even know of its existence until recently.

So, now I am back to having just the one postpaid number with etisalat (my original postpaid number) and I shouldn’t have a problem adding a new iPhone X device on it since I have no other existing device contracts under my name - all have been paid and completed. Yet, I tried three different etisalat stores and they told me that I am unable to add the new iPhone X to my postpaid number.

At the stores, each time, everything goes fine with the thumb print, signing the contract on the e-signature pad, setting the auto-debit etc. But, in the end, when the device is chosen on the etisalat agent’s system and he tries to proceed with it, he’s hit with an error on the screen, which reads: ‘Bad credit history’. All three stores I visited had the same error.

All my contracts have been paid up and my original postpaid number has never been disconnected due to non-payment. I have never defaulted a bill on my number. I am so frustrated.

I am left with no choice but to consider making a move to the competitor, if someone at etisalat doesn’t see my plight and help resolve this situation. I have tried lodging a complaint at the etisalat store and I got a call back from an etisalat call centre agent located in another country, who was hardly helpful. At the end of the call, they were swift to send me an automated SMS to the effect of: “Your complaint has been resolved and closed”. That’s far from the truth and my complaint was hardly understood, let alone resolved.

From Mr Tintu Pillai


The management of etisalat responds:

Thank you for bringing Mr Pillai’s concerns to our attention. Etisalat customer service team would want to apologise for all the inconvenience caused to him. We have provided him with the requested device and the plan has been activated accordingly. Mr Pillai has expressed his appreciation for the support extended to him. The case is resolved and closed.

Mr Pillai responds:

Thank you Gulf News, for following up on my case. I can confirm that etisalat did get in touch with me, and my complaint has been resolved.

The case is resolved now, thanks to their efforts too. A huge thanks to the management of etisalat.

(Process initiation: December 4. Response from organisation: December 10. Reader confirmation: December 11.)

Editor’s note: Do you have similar issues that you would like to raise with us? You can write to us at readers@gulfnews.com.