I am residing in Sharjah and my concern is regarding etisalat’s policy of a two-year mandatory contract. I signed up for etisalat’s eLife connection in 2011 when I was residing in Abu Dhabi. At the time, etisalat used to provide internet speed of 8mbps for the package I had subscribed for. The package was eLife, which included a landline phone, internet speed of 8mbps and Asian Basic TV channel package. I remember I used to pay around Dh349. I don’t remember if in that period, etisalat used to get a minimum two-year contract signed by its customers. Even if that is the case, I have completed the contract term.
Now, over the years, etisalat has upgraded its basic internet speed from 8mbps to 20mbps for the same price, which I am paying right now, that is, Dh359 for eLife (Asian Basic TV). When I requested them to change my internet speed accordingly as other customers with same package are paying the same amount as I am, etisalat insisted that I sign a new contract with them for two more years.
I asked them a few questions, to which they replied with one vague answer — it’s based on company policy.
1. I have completed two years as per my contract in 2013, so why should I sign a new contract, as I am an old customer?
2. If other customers are paying Dh359 for eLife Asian Basic TV and getting internet speed of 20mbps, why should I pay Dh359 when I am receiving only 8mbps?
3. I told them my internet modem, landline instruments, etc, are all old and outdated, and I am paying more for these old instruments. Why?
Regarding all my questions above, they have only one answer and it is ‘company policy’.
Isn’t it the basic business policy for any organisation to not take undue advantage of any customer? People who are paying the same rent/charges should have the same benefits. Why are they holding old customers to such contracts, which they have already complied with?
I would request Gulf News to help me in this regard.
From Mr Avinash Koul
The management of etisalat responds:
Etisalat constantly upgrades and creates new packages to meet and satisfy consumer requirements. New subscribers usually have their package activated under a 24-month contract. In this scenario, the customer in exchange receives a new router, wireless phone, set top box and 20mbps speed at Dh359. This is the basic eLife package for subscribers.
However, older customers have the option to retain their packages until the end of the contract or upgrade the service at the same price to the new package by signing a new contract and higher internet speed. It is important to note that new terms and conditions will apply to this contract.
In this case, Mr Koul was subscribed to an eLife package with 8mbps speed since February 2013. He has the below options:
• Mr Koul can continue under the same package with 8mbps speed if he does not want to upgrade to a new contract.
• To move to a new package with higher internet speed at the same price, he will have to sign a new contract for 24 months period.
• Mr Koul will receive a new router and wireless phone when he moves to a new package of Dh359 on a 24-month contract.
• To avail a speed of 20mbps, a new agreement will have to be prepared.
Etisalat customer care team has called Mr Koul and recommended the above options but he is insisting on upgrading his speed without a contract.
Mr Koul responds:
I thank Gulf News for taking my request forward to etisalat’s management. However, they have told me the same thing that their customer service executives are telling me over the phone.
They are missing basic consumer concerns, which are:
1. Why should there be a contract for old customers?
2. They should give us a copy of the signed contract — nowhere is 8mbps speed mentioned there, so technically, I have signed a contract to be with etisalat for two years, which I have completed and I have not signed a contract for 8mbps speed.
3. They know most of the people are expatriates and may have to go back to their home countries, so is this policy not against basic consumer rights?
4. They can have such policies in place, but accordingly, there should be a difference in price, that is, consumers with a contract can pay a smaller amount and those without a contract should be charged more for the same packages. Isn’t this more reasonable?
Thank you for the support and help, it really means a lot to me.
The contract is not only for old customers but for anyone availing a service from etisalat. Customer can choose not to be in a contract if they are not going to be making any changes on their current service.
Contracts are put in place for a reason. For every customer availing services, etisalat makes a significant investment to make sure the infrastructure is ready to provide that service. From laying out the cables to installation of the service, wherein etisalat is only asking customer to pay part of the amount, which is usually Dh199, and in some instances, it is even provided for free. In order to make sure that our customers will receive consistent and quality service, the contract serves as an assurance that our customers will pay etisalat for a certain period of time that will be enough to cover the expense of providing the service.
Etisalat is all for fairness, which is why all our services are streamlined for all customers to avoid confusion and complaints. It is designed to make sure that the services will be made affordable for everyone.
(Process initiation: March 5. Response from organisation: March 8. Process completion: April 12.)
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