Telecoms duo told to warn users over data
Etisalat and du cannot impose extra charges for usage without informing customers
The UAE’s two telecoms providers, du and Etisalat, have been banned from charging customers for extra data if their packages run out, unless the person signs up to a deal.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority ( TRA) issued the directive yesterday after finding some customers are being hit with over-inflated bills they weren’t told about.
Regulators said the firms must install a “hard cap” on all data bundles to protect customers from unfair data billing.
Under the new directive, when a consumer has exhausted their bundle allowance, they will not be able to use any more data.
Etisalat and du can now only supply additional data if the consumer subscribes to another bundle, specifically opts-in to be charged or instructs them to remove the cap.
Etisalat yesterday said it has already implemented the cap for both contract and pay-as-you-go customers.
Many customers are not aware of costs incurred from out-of-bundle rates, according to Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, Director-General of the TRA.
He said: “We are concerned with the potential for consumers to receive larger than expected charges for their out-of-bundle mobile data usage.
“We acknowledge that both Etisalat and du have provided various tools to enable customers to monitor their data usage and costs. However, not all consumers use such tools. It is also difficult to estimate how much data is being consumed while browsing the internet or sending emails.”
Al Mansouri added: “Consumers may not be aware of the actual costs associated with such mobile data usage and this could lead to ‘bill shock’. We aim to address the issue once and for all through this new directive.” At present, once the data limit is exceeded, operators continue to provide data on a pay-as-you-go basis at Dhs1 per MB, which the consumer may not be aware of. According to the TRA, if a consumer downloads 200MB of emails, the charge for data could be Dhs200, which could be higher than the price of a monthly bundle. 7DAYS spoke to residents who said they have been caught out. Irish architect Yvonne Foley, 40, claimed Etisalat charged her about Dhs1,400 on top of her contract bundle without notifying her every month since January. She said: “I am a prestige customer with a bundle which costs Dhs 1,000 per month, but on an average I get a bill of Dhs 2,400, stating I have over used my bundle, even after I had put a hard cap on it for Dhs500 if I exceed.” Another Etisalat user, Indian expat Mohammadi Arif, 45, said she was charged Dhs1,000 twice for excess data. She said: “I was not notified before and had no idea I was browsing on a pay-asyou-go basis.” Etisalat said: “In line with the UAE TRA’s directive, Etisalat has put a hard cap on mobile data bundles for its prepaid and postpaid customers.”