x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE telecom users outraged by 'du'opoly' as bills hiked

The company is raising the price of its most basic internet and call package from September 1, but some customers say they were not informed.

Customers of du are up in arms after the telecom company raised prices for their home broadband and telephone services, reportedly without informing clients. Sarah Dea/The National
Customers of du are up in arms after the telecom company raised prices for their home broadband and telephone services, reportedly without informing clients. Sarah Dea/The National

DUBAI // Angry du customers are blasting an unexpected increase in the cost of their home broadband and telephone service.

The company is raising the price of its most basic internet and call package from Dh199 a month to Dh275 from September 1.

It says the new 8mbps service has "improvements" such as free national landline calls, free international minutes and an on-demand movie service.

But some customers complain they are being forced to pay more for services they do not want.

They say they do not have the option of keeping their old plan and cannot switch to Etisalat because the two internet providers monopolise the areas they serve.

Some also complain that du did not contact them about the price hike.

Angry customers took to Twitter yesterday to voice their outrage, after one user noted the price rise mentioned on du's website.

"So @dutweets just decided to increase rates by over 20 per cent and customers find out accidentally - daylight robbery," tweeted @WildeTrude.

The blunt response from the official du Twitter account was: "Hey! If you don't want to continue with the services, you can cancel your account at one of our stores."

In a later Tweet the company apologised to "We take your concerns seriously and aplogise [sic] for the earlier tweet. We are more than happy to clarify any of your concerns."

Another upset customer was Ian Saldanha. "Considering I never resort to using my landline, the stated free calling benefits are absolutely worthless," he said. "I would much rather be given the option to select the base package and then opt for value-added services rather than being forced into them.

"This is a fine example of the inflexibility cause by the telecom du'opoly."

Krysia Januszewski said the "improved" services were of little interest because "we never ever use our home phone".

Du asked Twitter users to privately message the company so it could follow up on complaints.

The company is also increasing the price of its 24mbps package from Dh350 to Dh400.

Asked to explain the changes, a company statement outlined the new services but did not explain why the old 8mbps service would no longer be available.

"There have been revisions made to our existing home service packages, Talk and Surf and Talk, Surf and Watch," the statement said. "These revisions will come into effect from September 1, and have been applied to provide the best value for voice, internet and entertainment services in the UAE.

"The new home service packages will offer customers free local and national calls from landline to landline in the UAE, in addition to free international minutes to 175 destinations and access to more than 500 movie titles on demand. Customers subscribing or migrating to higher broadband speeds with du's Talk and Surf or Talk, Surf and Watch packages will save up to 25 per cent, making them the best broadband rates in the UAE.

"Customers not in favour of the new offers are provided the choice of either opting for alternative superior broadband speeds in addition to local and national calls, or of migrating to a package that best suits their requirements.

"Customers will automatically start to enjoy free local and national calls, international minutes and all other associated benefits from September 1."

Rival telecoms provider Etisalat also issued new plans, but a company spokesman said existing users would not be obliged to change their current package.

"It is not a forced migration - new customers can enjoy new speeds and if you are on the 8mbps today, the new 10mbps is the same price," said Rashed Al Abbar, vice president of home product market at Etisalat.

ksinclair@thenational.ae