x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Rusty cable leads to long, tiresome saga with Etisalat

Last January I realised that my landline number was not working, as there was nothing but a loud buzzing on the line.

Last January I realised that my landline number was not working, as there was nothing but a loud buzzing on the line. I initially assumed that I had not paid a bill and reported it to Etisalat. On February 6, they sent out a technician, who told me that the line was fine and my telephones were faulty. I bought a new phone, but it still did not work properly. I made a further complaint to Etisalat, and the following day some of their people turned up at 8:20am - without arranging an appointment. Some 15 minutes later they confirmed that the problem was indeed the fault of Etisalat and that I had been wrongly advised by the technician. I am now out the cost of a new handset and have paid for a telephone line that has not worked for six weeks. Not only have I incurred these unnecessary costs, but I have had to make more costly calls on my mobile phone. Surely Etisalat should be refunding me for these costs? In addition, I keep receiving calls from people wanting to contact Emirates Bank. Has the number been duplicated? As these calls are numerous and a significant disruption, I asked Etisalat whether the number could be changed, but was told there would be a fee of Dh150. This seems excessive when I am being disturbed through no fault of my own. SC Dubai

The matter was referred to Etisalat, and after many e-mails and telephone conversations, as well as visits from technicians, Etisalat admitted that the fault was a rusty cable, which has now been replaced. Also, service charges for the last six weeks have been waived, and the landline number has been changed without charge. Etisalat did argue that the initial fault was with the handset, claiming that customers should buy only approved handsets. Nevertheless, the company issued a refund of Dh150 to cover the cost of the extra phone. This matter took three weeks to resolve, but SC is now happy with the outcome.

I am the holder of an Emirates NBD bank account and took a personal loan from them in December 2007, to be repaid over two years. Instalments were deducted from my account from January 2008 until December 2009, as expected. But to my surprise, when I checked my account online on December 27, there was still a balance on my loan. I immediately telephoned the call centre, but the representative was not helpful. He advised me to visit the branch. I duly went to the Ibn Battuta branch on December 29, and after speaking to several staff members they promised to call me the next day. I heard nothing, so I went back on January 3, and then to the Jebel Ali branch on January 10 and 13. A formal complaint was eventually raised and I was told I would hear back in three days, but again, no one contacted me. I must have sent eight e-mails on consecutive days, and all I was ever told was that "we are investigating". Every time I contacted the call centre, I was told it would be fixed tomorrow, which never happened. On January 25, a further Dh1,287.22 was deducted from my current account and the loan still showed an outstanding balance. A loan officer finally told me that the loan account should have been closed on December 12 - which I obviously knew - but additional interest has been charged since then. MSG Dubai

MSG has spent a great deal of his time trying to resolve the matter, causing him considerable distress. I put the problem to Emirates NBD, and after some weeks of investigation they have sent this reply: "Our customer care unit was continuously in touch with MSG while investigating the query. "The amount disputed by MSG pertains to interest on his personal loan computed for the period between the loan disbursal date and the first instalment date. This interest was not migrated to customer's statement due to a system issue. However, we have rectified the entry as agreed with the customer and provided him with a partial waiver of the interest and proper explanation through a letter sent to him." MSG has received a refund that covers most of the costs. I understand that the remainder will be credited to him shortly.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae