A very grumpy little pair of pieces in today’s Gulf News: the ‘phone company that everyone loves to shout at, Etisalat, has released a new block of numbers starting with the prefix 056 and hasn’t bothered telling anyone, according to the paper which gives the grievance front page space (alongside a report of the horrific crash that happened yesterday on the Sheikh Zayed Road outside the Grand Hyatt: a minibus jumped the central barrier and hit an oncoming car with the loss of five lives) and then repeats the story inside.
The source of at least some of GN’s grumpiness is given away in the story, “repeated requests by Gulf News for a comment from etisalat went unanswered”, and then GN gets its revenge, continuing with “Etisalat subscribers regularly complain about the poor customer support.”
The GN story is hung on a single subscriber complaint, which is a tad thin if you ask me. Australian businessman Irshad says he's been given a new number and is facing constant problems with people insisting they’ve got the number wrong. The paper says that ‘apart from a press release’ there has been no attempt at raising awareness of the new number: that press release, as far as I can see, went out in August 2006!!!
Changing a national numbering scheme without any attempt at public awareness is an odd decision to make. Choosing to ignore media enquiries about it an even odder one, particularly given that Etisalat is involved, at least nominally, in a competitive market. The result would appear to be some unwelcome coverage given unusual prominence, I would submit precisely because the company has been ignoring the newspaper's requests.
You can only conclude that there’s a potent cocktail of stupidity and arrogance at work here and that’s surprising given the vast number of very positive changes that have been taking place over at Etisalat towers over the past couple of years.
This news is also bad news for a completely different reason: it’s the death knell for the Du test, because people are going to start asking for the ‘full’ mobile number including the prefix now.
Mind you, I have to confess I’ll be delighted if people start asking “Is that 050 or 056?”...