Telecoms duo told to warn users over data

Eti­salat and du can­not im­pose ex­tra charges for us­age with­out in­form­ing cus­tomers

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma­hak Man­nan @Ma­hakLFC

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.”

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