FNC highlights consumer frustration over telecoms sales calls

FNC member Hamad Al Rahoomi said 13,000 complaints had been made last year against Etisalat.

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ABU DHABI // Customers are frustrated by sales calls from the two telecommunications operators and complaints filed to them have nearly doubled, the Federal National Council heard.

Dubai member Hamad Al Rahoomi quoted a media report saying 13,000 complaints were made against Etisalat last year, while complaints to both Etisalat and du increased by 265 per cent from 2015.

Mr Al Rahoomi said some of the complaints were because salespeople who offered services over the phone often lacked details, so customers did not understand what they would be paying for.

“How can they accept an offer over the phone and without a contract?” he asked. “People are complaining and abroad they are talking about it.”

To add to the trouble, consumers are surprised that when they ask to cancel services they signed up for over the phone, the process is too complicated and they have to cancel them in person.

“They are taking advantage of their databases, which include customers’ details,” Mr Al Rahoomi said. “Imagine if every company did what Etisalat and du are doing. Phones will never stop ringing.”

Hamad Al Mansouri, director of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, said there were rules to selling by phone and callers should not be persistent if the customer showed a lack of interest.

Consumers have the right to ask to be placed on a list exempting them from receiving such calls, Mr Al Mansouri said.

When customers complain they were not informed about certain details before registering for a service, an investigation is carried out based on call recordings and those customers can be compensated.

Mr Al Mansouri said any service for which a customer had registered by phone could also be cancelled by phone.

Mr Al Rahoomi said the public needed more help in dealing with the problem.

“There is no need for all this disturbance,” he said. “There are only two companies and there should be a system that facilitates for the public to deal with these issues,” said he said.

Mr Al Mansouri said mandates introduced last year directed all complaints to the TRA, rather than to companies. Seven complaints had been received so far.

“We are ready to deal with any complaints,” he said.

“This is good to know,” Mr Al Rahoomi replied. “Because when you complain to the company, there is not much they will do.”