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Reader was charged Dh900 for sending a text message to a charity organisation

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I have been a loyal customer of etisalat for over four years now, and I have always paid my bills on time. In February, I subscribed to an additional mobile subscription for my wife. However, in her first monthly bill, etisalat wrongfully charged her Dh900 for something showing up in the bill as ‘promotional SMS’.

After many complaints and calls to etisalat, they keep telling me that on March 7, 2016, there was an outgoing SMS from her mobile to a charity number ‘9900’. I have assured them that after checking her phone, there was no outgoing message or an outgoing call for that day. She also has said she never sent any such message or donation to any charity, especially an amount of Dh900. With our monthly income, it is inconceivable we would do such a thing.

I am sure this is a technical billing error on etisalat’s part, yet they are not agreeing and are adamant that I am the one who must be at fault. I have called them many times to resolve this erroneous bill, yet I get the same answer from them. I have approached Consumer Rights, who have guided me to contact the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, which I also did on April 19. Etisalat called me on April 24 and told me to contact their customer care via email and explain the situation so that they can investigate the matter and rectify the situation.

The caller from etisalat seemed to understand my situation and assured me all would be rectified once I filed the complaint via email. Since then, no one has contacted me from etisalat and the issue is still unresolved and the erroneous Dh900 keeps getting carried over to every subsequent month’s bill.

This is extremely unprofessional on etisalat’s part — erroneously charging me such a large amount of money for something I know I have not done. Feeling helpless, I feel my last resort is contacting Gulf News in the hopes that this will help raise awareness about this issue and also to alert others to always double-check their etisalat bills in detail before paying them.

From Mr Fahd Chaudhry

Dubai

The management of etisalat responds:

Thanks for bringing Mr Chaudhry’s concerns to our attention. Etisalat Customer Care have confirmed that the SMS was sent to Dubai Cares for Dh900 as a donation. Therefore, in this case, a refund is not possible as the whole amount goes to charity directly without any deduction from telecom operators. Mr Chaudhry was informed on the matter and no further action can be taken in this case.

(Process initiation: July 24. Response from organisation: August 22. Process completion: August 24.)

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