Paying twice

I am a long-term resident of the UAE, and have been an etisalat customer for over 20 years now.

In June of 2013, I bought a new iPhone along with a data package from etisalat. My monthly bill was Dh454, which was to cover the bulk of the cost of the iPhone phone set paid over 12 instalments, plus a monthly fee which covers the data usage.

On June 30, 2014, I received an SMS from etisalat, reminding me that my current contract is about to expire, and that it would be renewed automatically unless I sent them notification of cancellation. I paid little attention to the SMS at the time, believing that any automatic renewal would surely just cover the data usage part of the contract.

I awoke the morning of July 1, having received multiple notifications from etisalat by SMS that my contract has been renewed, and when I called to enquire about my monthly billing rate for the renewal, I was informed by the call centre attendant me that it would be Dh454. This made no sense to me at all.

The monthly amount of Dh454 includes within it a portion that is meant to pay for the cost of the phone set. By the end of the 12th of the contract, etisalat should have received that amount in full. How can they justify charging me a 13th month when the phone set has been fully paid?

The automatic renewal should only cover the data usage part, and not the price of the phone. No amount of persuasion could convince the call centre attendants to whom I addressed my complaint, as they simply regurgitated that the company policy had been observed, and that it was my fault in the first place for not cancelling the contract. Out of frustration, and knowing that I have already been billed in advance for July (which is another unjust policy if you ask me), I cancelled my contract there and then.

My position is two-fold:

1) The contract I entered into originally was for 12 months, and no law can allow a company to enforce a policy where the default action upon expiry of a contract is renewal. The default action upon expiry of any contract is that it should end, period. Renewal must be by active willingness on the part of the customer. In other words, the customer must ask for a renewal and not the other way around.

2) Even if etisalat were to be allowed the right to automatically renew contracts, they have no right to charge for the price of the phone beyond the 12 months. Imagine if a customer, unaware of what he/she is being charged and why, were to simply allow his/her contract to run for five years. Does that mean that etisalat would be entitled to earn the price of the iPhone set they had sold, five times over? Surely, something is wrong in this equation.

I now turn to Gulf News in the hope that the newspaper can help correct the injustice done to me and any other etisalat customer who may find himself/herself in a similar situation.

From Mr Ziad Azzam


The management of etisalat responds:

Kindly note that the customer’s issue was resolved and he has already been informed.

Mr Azzam responds:

I confirm that they have addressed the matter. Please consider the issue resolved.

(Process initiation: August 19. Response from organisation: August 30. Reader confirmation: September 4.)

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