DUBAI // TV sports subscribers are angry after they say they were automatically signed up to a new, more expensive channel package without their approval.
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.
Customers are being charged Dh32 extra even though beIN, the Qatar-based broadcaster, shows a Dh90 package available on its website.
The price hike came into effect in the July bill cycle, with Etisalat automatically upgrading customers to the ‘Complete’ package, which includes additional channels for children’s shows, movies and sports.
Loic Drezet, from France, said he was not told about the price increase and the upgraded package was “ridiculous”.
“Etisalat never informed me about the increase and I always keep a record on my phone of everything,” said the Abu Dhabi resident.
“I only want to watch sports but also, the movies that they show on the [new] channels are completely outdated.
“Compared to the 30-odd dirhams I used to pay in 2011, to me this is unacceptable. It’s an increase of more than 200 per cent in five years. On top of that, I even have to pay Dh257 if I want to watch the Euros.
“By comparison, the price for beIN in France is 13 euros [Dh53] without anything else to pay if you want to watch the Euros or World Cup. I personally feel that it’s a rip-off but as we have only one provider for football I have no choice and feel like Etisalat and beIN are taking advantage of this.”
Another disgruntled customer, who did not want to give her name, also said she was not told about the price increase and was surprised when bill had increased by Dh32.
“Etisalat said they informed customers via 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, but 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 and 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 customer service for Etisalat to remove choice when it knows customers rarely have the chance to switch home services provider.
“Etisalat has a monopoly in many areas but 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.”
A spokeswoman for Etisalat said the price increase came from beIN sports and insisted that the Dh90 package was 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 [of extra channels]. BeIN sports channel price changes are determined by beIN.
“Customers were informed about it as well via SMS.
“With the increase per month, customers now get more sports, movies, kids and entertainment channels.”
She added that call centre staff are aware of the Dh90 package but are only telling customers who are interested in the previous sport-only package.
Source: uae news