Zain’s closed, please call back later

20 May, '08

All of a sudden, the Internet stopped working at home, that happened earlier today, at about 6.15am. No big deal. I restarted the router but unfortunately that did not resolve the problem. So I called their helpdesk and after going through the usual hoops of their IVR by selecting the right options then inputting the Zain’s WiMax telephone number and password and waiting for I think 3 or 4 minutes more on hold (I love their signature music, don’t you?) the guy eventually comes online with their now traditional greeting, which again I much appreciate, especially when the alternative at Batelco is akin to a rabid Rottweiler’s barking, he sweetly tells me that the WiMax people did not start work yet and if I could call later!

I just looked at the phone in disbelief! I asked him whether he was joking, but no, he was as serious as a heart attack. He made the again Zain signature apology sweetly and I put down the phone completely in disbelief.

Zain sells WiMax, an Internet service and they don’t have a 24 hour support team in place!


I got in my car and came to the office to carry on with my work. But the first thing I did was to confirm the above and once again called their help center. I went through their IVR, made my now memorised choices and got to an operator and asked, sweetly, what the WiMax helpdesk’s operating hours were. She very sweetly replied that it is from 8am through to 10pm.

8am to 10pm is a regular job, NOT an Internet help desk! What the hell is up with that?

I’m starting to get a few goosebumps here people. A few days ago – last Saturday to be exact – a similar situation happened. The Internet just stopped working. After the guy assuring me that restarting the router would resolve the problem. It didn’t. So half an hour later I follow-up only to be told – politely – that my initial suspicion was right and that they do indeed have a problem with their platform. Okay, that happens, well how long will it take to get resolved? I asked, to be answered with: “well a few hours at most sir, can I do anything else for you today?” – A FEW HOURS?, and I converted to Zain because I wanted a better price and reliability?

Yep, Zain can do something for me today for sure, they can take their WiMax and shove it where the sun don’t shine!

At least until they operate proper helpdesk mechanism that actually works around the clock, like any self respecting ISP would.

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Comments (39)

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  1. loki says:

    perhaps its time to reconsider the Microsoft of Bahrain (aka Batelco)..

  2. Abu Arron says:

    I can beat that. I got home from work one day to discover a problem with my Orbit service. Namely, I was staring at a blank screen. I rang their Help Desk, was instructted to turn the receiver off at the mains, wait twenty minutes and switch it all back on again. I did so, still no luck, rang the Help Desk back and got a recorded message saying that I was out of hours (by 5 minutes!!!!) and would have to ring back the next day.

    I assume that they do not record the responses from their customers as I didn’t get a visit from Bahrain’s uniformed finest the next day. I should state that, after my educational conversation with them the next day, I never had a problem with customer service again.

  3. Redbelt says:

    AH, Mahmood. We figured that Sooner or later you’d bump into this. Eyad actually forcasted this (read here: he said that dust and rain would render Wimax useless. Have you been following my blogged experience of applying to Zain@home? (click my name to go there). Turns out Zain didn’t reach my home.
    oh well..
    Go have a peek at the internet packages our brothers in Saudi are getting.

  4. Ashish says:

    This is still a lot better than my experience with Lightspeed. Their darn service should be called Lightcrawl… it actually worked for only 7 days for the one month that we had them. First, they blamed Batelco for not doing what they were supposed to do and when that was sorted out and the Internet died one Friday morning, the friendly voice at the customer desk asked me to contact them on Sunday morning to get the problem sorted out. Instead, I just took the Lightbox to their office and told them that their service sucked and hasta la viesta.

  5. Eyad says:

    I said it 100’s o times before, as weird as it sounds Batelco is the best ISP in Bahrain (for residential services) and no one ever believes me, we have an old saying mahmood “il a3war 3ala il 3myan Basha” and currently Batelco is our A3war.
    Zain’s services in General have been suffering, I am actually thinking of going back to Batelco mobile as I’m having a hard time with my zain numbers (I have 3 of them), the Ego sucks, mobile has been bad for the last 6-7 months, and as predicted before the Wimax sucks.

    I understand that zain got the Wimax frequency license for its financial value, I really do, what don’t understand is them launching a stupid service with no real preparation, they used to be the choice for individual and corporate mobile services, they use to have the best call center in the region, but now! They voice quality of the international calls have been really bad for some reason, the reception is unbelievably weak, and as an internet provider they should have a 24/7 call center service, if anything they should include it only to live up to the name they built.

    Mahmood, its not too late to go back to Batelco yet, we need you online and connected mate.

  6. Sam says:

    Mahmood, its not too late to go back to Batelco yet, we need you online and connected mate.

    I think it might be too late – Have you signed to a 12 or 18 month contract?

    I hate contracts – contracts mean you cant try or sample a service without signing your life away. Lightspeed had no contract so I took them up on their offer – was very dissapointed, and cancelled my subscription 19 days later and went back to Batelco. You really don’t know unless you try.

    I’ll tell you what did impress me though – Batelco’s 3G (HSDPA) service. You pay BD29 a month, and you get a 10GB monthly download limit, at speeds upto 3.6Mbps… I never did get 3.6, the most I was able to get was 3.3Mbps
    There’s no contract either and you can bring your own 3G modem to the table your not obliged to use the one they sell.

  7. anon says:

    مو يقولون جديمك نديمك Ùˆ لو اغناك يديدك …. Ùˆ ما تعرف قديري الا لين تعاشر غيري …. Ùˆ يود مينونك لا اييك اللي اين منه …. Ùˆ اخيرا ما اخس من المربوط الا المنفلت
    فالرسالة المراد توصيلها هي ان مالكم الا غير بتلكو طلعتو فوق نزلتو تحت بتبقون منحكرين مع بتلكو 🙂

  8. Kiwi Nomad says:

    When I complained to Zain about the dialup speeds we have been getting in the last few days I was told they had a problem and it would be a few days to fix. When I responded that I would then be expecting a credit or refund for the poor service, they ignored my question. I had initially tried to register online to see what was happening on my account, but it was impossible to create an email address that their system would recognise… so that didn’t go anywhere.
    A 24/7 helpdesk would be great if by actually answering the phone they could do something to help. Most times they can’t and can only register the problem.
    We’re also locked into an 18month contract, but I’m sure if we jump up and down enough because they have failed to deliver we will be able to break it. (We’ve already converted from the failed eGo service to get Zain@Home!).

  9. Wow. I was actually waiting for Zain to come in and offer services in Dubai.. but from the looks of this, we will be sticking with etisalat for a long time coming. du is just horrid (mobile and internet). While Batelco has a long way to get to etisalat’s level (I’ve been a customer to both), it still is better than a lot of providers I’ve used.

  10. Jon says:

    Zain have these last few months gone from bad to worse. I have a pretty decent phone (Nokia E90 communicator) yet Zain’s 3G data services manage to render my phone into a relic that it isn’t.

    The phone struggles to perform with getting a decent data connection on 3G, it struggles to go to 3.5G, then it looks at me rather glumly as it tries its best on a GSM signal.

    I feel like telling it “don’t worry son, I know you tried!”. And this is in the middle of Seef, not somewhere in the middle of the desert.

    Mobile voice? Not impressed at all. Last Saturday at 11am or thereabouts: no signal in Exhibition Road. You drive down a couple of blocks and you’re fine.

    Zain’s website? huh! You cannot effect a credit card top-up, and using a credit card to pay a bill on a contract is a nightmare (stupid excuse that my card is not being accepted etc etc).

    I have never been a client of Batelco’s but someone I know who was with Zain and has finally had enough of them told me that the difference in service is tangible – Batelco is so much better. Their 3G data service actually works.

    I must admit that I chose Zain (or MTC Vodafone as it was called back then) because of the goodwill of the VF name. The reason I do not switch is that all my business cards show a 36 number and here we have no number portability. Otherwise it’d be a long time since I switched operator.

  11. ammaro says:

    well, were screwed either way. batelco provides crap service. zain provides crap service. the tiny companies offering internet provide crap service. you see, its a choice of crap, or crapper.

    what im saying sounds like it might be a little sarcastic but thats just the truth; i’ve had 13 days without a phone line and internet, because batelco couldn’t be assed to get off their asses and fix a little mistake they made with their switchboard. i’m not moving to zain, because i’m not signing ANYTHING that requires a contract which only serves to the corporate’s benefit, and not yours. i’m not moving to anyone else, because the other companies have had a track record of providing a bad quality product at a bad quality service.

    i know i sound negative, but unfortunately for such a tiny conuntry, where connectivity shouldn’t be an issue, EVERYONE has an issue. it’s ridiculous, we’ve been saying it for years, but no one still gives a damn.

  12. Sam says:

    Speaking of ‘tech’, did anyone read the govt’s plan on becoming the first country in the world to offer FREE email accounts to it’s citizens?

  13. mahmood says:

    aha. The same government that doesn’t have laws protecting information, and the same that can’t decide (or worse, doesn’t know) the actual number of people living on its soil and the same government who is descending into chaos and the same government who got chemical weapons to be used against its citizens (but not enemies!) approved by its parliament and the same government who can’t face launching a probe into a scandal such as Bandargate and oh, the same government who most probably is providing this “new” and “fantastic” service in order to make it easier for them to spy on people!


    And you know what? They will make this “free” account mandatory somehow, where all government communication will only be sent through that mailbox.

  14. Redbelt says:

    The free email per citizen law is as stupid as er… a very stupid thing.
    Google & Yahoo have been doing it free for millions for years! Everyone in Bahrain has an email account. What void or need would they fill by doing that? I can’t see any.

  15. mahmood says:

    What void or need would they fill by doing that? I can’t see any.

    1. commission
    2. good salesman

  16. naddooi says:

    Hahaa…waaaa! 😥

    And there I was thinking Zain might actually be @home soon! Ah well, what else can we expect in this country?

    Here’s what happened a few months ago to me. A certain bank, with whom I signed up for ebanking, and after I logged in for the first time, at approximately 10:30pm, I realised I could not view my account, or statements or anything. After having called the helpdesk, they informed me that:
    “your records (accounts, statements, etc) are currently not accessible as it is past 10pm” …
    I was a tad, well, taken aback, I replied:
    ok, so it will all be accessible when?
    “at 4am”,
    Ah, so it is down for scheduled maintenance?
    “No, we are running the daily batches, so records are not accessible between 10pm and 4am”


    And I thought the whole idea of ebanking was to be able to do banking outside of working hours! Me and my silly ideas!

    Oh yeah, love the emails idea, perfect! I’ll send ALL my mail through a government address! yes yes, me first pleaaase!

  17. Sam says:

    Everyone in Bahrain has an email account.

    Well.. not entirely. Around 40% of all households in Bahrain are not subscribed to the internet based on 2007 figures – that’s not good at all. The govt are trying to push e-government and yet just under half of all households don’t have internet access at home!

    And I thought the whole idea of ebanking was to be able to do banking outside of working hours!

    I have the exact same issue with Citibank Bahrain. If I dare go over my credit limit by one measly dinar, it automatically prevents me from logging into my account via ebanking as “punishment”.. which means I cant see what I’ve spent, or how much over I’ve gone, I cant even pay my bill even though I’ve got money in my current account! Serves me right for banking with them 😐

  18. naddooi says:

    Gak! Sam that sounds HARSH! but also sounds like zain… if they disconnect your line, you can’t see your account unless you go pay! And my question was… “so how do you expect me to pay if I can’t log into the account?”

    yes… welcome to Bahrain! 😐

  19. forzaq8 says:

    hah its great to know suck everywhere else , i thought they are only assholes and suck to us in kuwait

  20. RedBirdiii says:

    Mahmood.. I think you should start ‘Boycott Zain’ website now.. 😈 😀

  21. mahmood says:

    I think we should just emigrate!

  22. ammaro says:

    that doesnt actually sound so bad mahmood, it REALLY doesnt!

    thailand, guys?

  23. dude says:

    btw, my 2mb 6 gig package runs at like 700-1mb speed now.
    this is weird :/

  24. Splinter Cell says:

    its good to see that people have actually woken up & started realising that Zain, lightspeed or any of the newbie ISPs whether we like it or not cannot compete with Batelco on service stability and customer service..

    When I have issues with my internet I would like to be able to speak to someone about it right away. The least Zain could do after charging so much for their wimax service is provide 24/7 support. Theyre able to paint the kingdom in their zain Ads but theyre not able to spend money on maintaing a proper 24/7 helpline for that infamous wimax service. Oh and top that their 107 staff seem to be very unskilled when it comes to wimax related complaints. Theyre not available 24/7 and when youre lucky enough to get hold of then you hardly get any quality support out of them

    Oh and I dont know what kind of billing systems they have invested in but I know theyre not the ones that are able to tell you how much download limit youve got left..

    If anyone has zain I would like you to call 107 and ask them how much download limit youve got left and see what kind of replies you get from sure you guys will be entertained..

    I dont know about you guys but Im not happy to sign a contract and tie myself with up with these guys.. NO WAY !

  25. Eyad says:

    Splinter Cell, your points are correct, but the smaller ISP’s and telco’s can compete and are actually competing with Batelco, not all of them have the right vision though and not all of them have the technical expertise that understand the market needs, Do not for a second underestimate any player in this small market.

    Batelco today is the best in residential services for reasons beyond any ISP’s control, they are the only company with existing copper and fiber optic infrastructure, the costs for leasing or renting this infrastructure are huge (you can find all the details on Batelco website), creating a new underground network is a process that takes years of planning and digging, but even with that in mind not long ago no one was allowed to dig anywhere on the island accept Batelco.

    There are many reasons behind the bad residential internet services in Bahrain, the ISP’s are only a small part of it, and I suggest being a tad more responsible when you are writing something on the internet where millions of people can read and use as reference.

    Good day.

  26. mohd kayani says:

    By the way that familiar happy tone they’ve got playing, when a Zain operator puts you on hold or when “your party is on the other line” is a derivative from an old Prince song. Its called “Gold”. I wonder if any of you new that?
    I’ve been wanting to yell this absolutely useless peice of info out from the rooftops and finally…

    Anyways back to the topic. I’ve experienced similar probs with the net and with Zain, but i’ll tell you at least the operator answer the phones and talk apologetically. Batelco on the other hand has got no concept of a helpdesk whatsoever. With them its a take it or leave it attitude.

  27. Maram says:

    CPE’s from which Manufacturer for Zain @ Home?

  28. Maram says:

    Mahmood, How is WiMAX running currently ur end?

  29. Sam says:

    CPE’s from which Manufacturer for Zain @ Home?

    Tilgin, Redline, and Intracom. Those were the name I remember from the launch. They might of changed their supplier though.

  30. mahmood says:

    I’ve got Tilgin.

    It’s working fine as far as I can tell; however, I’m having problems enabling UPnP and getting the settings to stick. I need to open access to incoming traffic as I access the computer from the office and want to share files and control it, unfortunately something is preventing me from doing that.

    Any ideas?

  31. Sam says:

    unfortunately something is preventing me from doing that.

    A public IP address? If you do have a public IP address and your behind a firewall, you’ll need to create rules for inbound requests if you want to gain access to services within your home networking.

    UPnP – Have you got parameters to play with? If so, try settings these:

    Advertisement Period = 30mins
    Advertisement TTL = 4 hops

    And after making changes, it’s always best to reboot your router even if your not prompted to do so.

  32. mahmood says:

    I need more information about the service and need to create user-defined port-forwarding rules on both the Zain and Batelco networks so that I can achieve what I want. This is for “Back to my Mac” service which allows you to remotely connect to your other macs wherever you are in the world. My brother demonstrated that to me the other day and his computer is in his house in London while he is in Bahrain. He said that there is nothing special required (I guess it’s a blanket port forward/NAT arrangement there) but I have been trying with my computers in Bahrain to no avail so far.

  33. Sam says:

    I need more information about the service

    Good luck with that!! You’ll end up having to talk to Zain’s CTO to get such basic tech details!

    I might be wrong, but I’ve heard your not assigned a public IP address with their Wimax service. Everyone’s put onto a private network therefor your pretty much unreachable from the outside world. You wouldn’t be able to host any services from within your network EVEN with UPnP support.

    You’ll probably be able to access your Office based mac from home, but not the other way round.

  34. mahmood says:

    If that’s true then I’m afraid I shall have to ditch Zain for something else. Hopefully without having to go back to Batelco.

  35. ammaro says:

    i remember orbit had a satellite intenet connection a while ago, although set-up costs were a little extreme (Well, maybe back then)… I wonder if anyone has any experience with them?

  36. Sam says:

    Hey Ammaro,

    Orbit still offer their 2-way satellite service, but they don’t advertise their prices on their website.. here’s why

    Their cheapest residential package (as of this morning) is 256k DL / 128k UL connection with a monthly download cap of 2.2GB

    – 25 BD/month
    – 20 BD Installation charge
    – 100 BD security deposit against the hardware
    – 1 year contract

    Big question mark regarding the requirement to hold a TRA issued VSAT license though..

  37. mahmood says:

    Here’s something interesting. I have a problem connecting to the office server all of a sudden, so I thought that I would email Zain’s tech support as instructed by their error message. I did. But this is what I got back:

    This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

    Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

    Technical details of permanent failure:
    PERM_FAILURE: Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 5.1.1 unknown or illegal alias: (state 14).

    Excellent, isn’t it!

  38. Sam says:

    Funny when you think of it – an ISP that aren’t web savvy!

    Apparently Lightspeed are launching some new services (products?) tomorrow. Should be interesting.

    *Awaits TRA to cry foul*

  39. Kiwi Nomad says:

    Interesting, but not surprising, Mahmood. I’ve already tried to register on Zain’s website and that doesn’t work. Par for the course in terms of sending email to an organisation in this part of the world… I have had emails rejected from the specific follow up email addresses provided by BBK, Gulf Air, and the MOC to name but three organisations in Bahrain. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a response to an email from a large organisation in this country. I’d really so like to blog on a positive experience where my expectations were met…
    Funnily, I’ve twice had calls from someone conducting a market/customer satisfaction survey for Zain on my experience with their eGo service (which was a complete failure, for me, anyway). At least I think it was a market survey – the surveyor didn’t introduce himself, didn’t really know what he was asking about, and gave up after the first question!

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