Monday, 14 July 2008

Grumpy

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.”

Ouch.

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?”...

:)

7 comments:

AbraCadabra said...

To be fair I do recall seeing full page newspaper ads a few months ago (on gulfnews!) announcing the new prefix.

alexander... said...

I missed 'em, then: but the assertion that there was no public information campaign (which doesn't, incidentally, have to be 'ads' - there are a million other ways of communicating with your customer base) came from Gulf News, not me!!!

And they, if they carried ads advising of the prefix, should surely know, no?

the real nick said...

For chrissakes, it's just a mobile prefix. How many different ones are there in the UK, or France or Italy ? four, five? 0797, 0786...Are people here really that easily stumped by one digit? silly season anyone?

the real nick said...

OK. I forgot silly season and Gulf News are actually synomyms.

the real nick said...

synonyms, dammit

alexander... said...

Yeah, but we spent over 15 years with only 050 numbers, which meant people only ever gave their numbers as a seven digit number - then we had the oddly chosen 055 prefix and the total lack of interest in that, now we've got other prefixes.

The Du Test was always based on the fact that you give your number as 422 5220 or whatever. BTW, that number was a totally random choice so don't call it. Now you have to say 050 or 056 or even (if you hate getting line quality or a dependable signal) 050.

I agree, GN's making a mountain out of a molehill. But my point is that they're only doing that because Etisalat's ignored their requests for a response - ANY response!

alexander... said...

*sigh*

You're right. It's the silly season...

Comment should have read,

The Du Test was always based on the fact that you give your number as 422 5220 or whatever. BTW, that number was a totally random choice so don't call it. Now you have to say 050 or 056 or even (if you hate getting line quality or a dependable signal) 055.

Yes, I am a dumb bastard...

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