Unethical telecom companies in Bahrain – VIVA as an example

2 Mar, '15

VIVA is an unethical telecoms operator in Bahrain, avoid at all costs.

Update: I received a reasonable refund from VIVA after they heard my complaint. Their management contacted me personally to resolve the issue and offered a way to stay as their customer. I appreciated their offer but demanded a refund for the over-charging which they satisfied. I have now moved back to Batelco. I hope my experience with them now will compensate for the experience I’ve had with them previously. With competition, they seem to be improving but there is plenty of scope for them to rise higher.

While it’s a fact that telecom companies are nothing but glorified automated billing systems, why aren’t they forced to let their customers know of the expiry or anniversary of their contract?

At the moment, VIVA, and I suspect the others too, carry on with their completely unethical practices of not notifying their customers that their contracts have ended, and continue with full unethical intent to charge them ad infinitum the very same charges per month even after their customer have fully paid their smartphone packages.

When I questioned VIVA why this is the situation when my iPhone contract expired in Dec 2013 and they continued to charge me nevertheless, their reply was that it is not their policy to inform their customers that their contracts have expired. I pursued the matter further to try to get a refund to no avail.

I thought I would take this to the telecom’s governing body, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and submitted the following:

Mobile number: xxx

Operator: VIVA

Type of complaint: VIVA did not inform me of the iPhone package plan expiry on the anniversary of the original contract (Dec ’13) and kept charging the same amount beyond that until Feb ’15 when it was discovered.

Type of resolutions requested:

  1. Refund the difference in charges from Dec ’13 to date
  2. Force ALL telecom operators to inform their customers on the anniversary of their purchased packages; either offer an upgrade or downgrade by customer choice

I’m available to meet to submit all correspondence with the operator to gain an equitable resolution.

I believe that the action of the telecom operators in this regard is unethical and should be corrected. All telecom operators around the world are essentially automated billing systems, it is their ethical duty to program those systems to inform their customers of the expiry of their contract and offer competitive packages to retain them. It is not the responsibility of a simple customer to keep track of these dates.

I look forward to your response.

The TRA’s response was not slow in coming, I just received a telephone call from them to inform me that they cannot accept and progress the complaint because it is up to company policy how they deal with this issue. When I asked them how I can escalate this matter, the response was that they didn’t know, effectively blocking any further action. To say that this was the response of the governing body is very disappointing. To me, this situation is taking advantage of customers in a completely nefarious manner. The bait and switch con doesn’t have anything on this.

There are two ways I can take this issue forward now: one is to go to court and the other is to get a member of parliament to sponsor a bill forcing a correction of these cons. I don’t have much hope of success on the first because of the necessary time and funds, and the second is equally as bad because parliament seems to be more interested in municipal, rather than legislative affairs.

What’s the solution then? How might a person effect change in this country whose very bodies that are supposed to protect citizens rights aren’t doing the jobs they are designed to perform?

I’m in the process of switching away from VIVA, hopefully never having to go back to them for any further service.

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Comments (11)

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  1. muizz says:

    I know Batelco do the same. In terms of effecting change, I wouldn’t have a clue to be honest. Best of luck.

    • mahmood says:

      In the absence of proper oversight by the TRA and Parliament, of course they would do the same. They are both extremely unethical, parasitic and opportunistic, caring about acquiring customers to con rather than gain the loyalty of present ones.

  2. Mohamed says:

    If I am correct, Zain is different. They sent me a text informing me that my contract has expired, and I can change the package.

  3. Ah Ali says:

    last month was my last bill in mu contracts, and they’re notify my by sms that I’ve go vist them to change my backegs or i’ll get ssme charges next bills.

  4. Sayed Mutahar says:

    I faced an issue with batelco with little similar details to yours, i asked their call center agent about my contract expire date, and she informed me its on next november but then i discovered its already ended since september and they was charging me the same even after contract expired.

  5. Amna says:

    I had an issue with the customer service dealing with me disrespectfuly so I chose to port out my number, i asked for all the details in person to avoid any complication, they told me port it out before 1st of next month because on that date the bill gets issued. I ported it out on 31st of december and the next month I received calls every 2 days and daily e-mail that I need to pay my bill, when I reported that I had no bill when I ported out they said “it takes 3 business days ” it got approved on 31st but our system automaticaly issues a bill even if it in the process! When I asked why havent you informed me earlier they said its not in our policy to tell the customer how the process happens! Which is absolutley unethical there should be strict rules on these companies because they are fooling the customers. But when atleast I asked if there is ny solution the guy on call told me because i am an old customer and pay my bills on time so he will tey to give me a discount, and he discounted 10BD from the 25BD.. I believe that I shouldnt pay at all but I did to avoid problems.. I hope you find a solution

  6. Aj says:

    I think you should not subject yourself to a package deal. Just buy the instrument separately and the telecom package separately. You will be of control in this type of scenerio and surely switch your carrier now, as your current carrier has clearly made it point to let you know that you are not the important to them.

  7. I’m an Batelco user
    in E-services it’s really easy, it’s shows me exactly how many months are remaining and how much i have to pay to finish the contract, 2nd thing i receive a msg that the contract is finished at the same day when it’s finished

  8. Aron says:

    i am using net data sim and i have 4 BD unlimited plan. after the completion i have recharged with 20 BD by their payment machine. now they have deducted all the balance and activated other plan of 15 BD 10 GB. Even in Actual they have just activated 4 BD plan for two month. Rest amount they Have stolen. Now After asking to customer care representative they are saying that my remaining 5 BD is also gone in their pocket without any value. its look like completely a cheating condition…thieves..

  9. Fardan Raffii says:

    yeah batelco do the same, and I also have an account manager, but its not in their system anyways to inform customers…

  10. River says:

    Just dropped by your blog and wanted to send you a “Hello from Texas”…it had been awhile…glad to see you are doing well!

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