UAE beIN sports subscribers hit out at price rise without notice

Etisalat has increased the price of its beIN sports TV package, which includes coverage of the English Premier League and Champions League football, from Dh78 to Dh110 a month.

Etisalat has increasd the price of its beIN sports TV package, which included coverage of UEFA Euro 2016. Philippe Lopez / AFP Photo
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DUBAI // TV sports subscribers are angry after they were automatically signed up to a new, more expensive channel package without their approval.

Etisalat has raised the price of its beIN Sports TV package from Dh78 to Dh110 a month. The telecoms operator said the price rise came from beIN sports.

The package includes the English Premier League and Champions League football.

Customers are being charged extra even though beIN, the Qatari broadcaster, offers a Dh90 package on its website.

The price rise came into effect in the July bill cycle. Etisalat upgraded customers to the “Complete” package that includes more channels for children’s shows, movies and sports.

Loic Drezet, from France, said he was not told about the price increase, and that the upgraded package was ridiculous.

“Etisalat never informed me about the increase and I always keep a record on my phone of everything,” said Mr Drezet.

“I only want to watch sports but also the movies they show on the new channels are completely outdated. On top of that, I even had to pay Dh257 if I wanted to watch the Euros.”

“Compared with the Dh30-odd I used to pay in 2011, to me this is unacceptable. It’s an increase of more than 200 per cent in five years,” Mr Drezet said.

“By comparison, the price for beIN in France is €13 without anything else to pay if you want to watch the Euros or World Cup.

“I feel it’s a rip-off, but as we have only one provider for football I have no choice, and I feel like Etisalat and beIN are taking advantage of this.”

Another disgruntled customer, who did not want to give her name, said the new bill came as a shock.

“Etisalat said they informed customers by SMS but I definitely didn’t get one,” she said.

“When I phoned up to find out what the increase was about they told me that I was getting more channels, such as movies and kids’ channels. Bu I only signed up for the sports and I wasn’t even asked if I wanted to upgrade.

“When I saw that a Dh90 option was mentioned on the beIN website, I made several calls. Some of the call-centre staff said it was available but most said it was not. There was a lot of confusion.”

She thought it was poor service for Etisalat to remove choice when it knew customers rarely had the chance to switch their home services provider.

“Etisalat has a monopoly in many areas and the least you would expect would be to offer customers options.

“Someone who has subscribed to sport channels should have the option of having an equivalent package after the price increase, not just be told that they have to take the ‘complete’ package, with channels they didn’t want, at a higher cost.”

Etisalat said the price increase came from beIN Sports and insisted that the Dh90 package was still available to customers.

“The Dh90 package is available to everyone and is active from this month,” she said. “The price increase was from beIN, not Etisalat, due to the added benefits. BeIN Sports channel price changes are determined by beIN.

“Customers were informed about it as well by SMS.

“With the increase per month, customers now get more sports, movies, kids’ and entertainment channels.”

She said call-centre staff were aware of the Dh90 package but were telling only customers who said they were interested in the old sport package.