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Impossible is nothing, unless you’re dealing with Etisalat

Blocking companies’ SMS should be easy, but as one reader discovered, the process can unnerve even the mildest of people.

October 28, 2008 12:39 by

Ever been woken up at three in the morning by SMSes from companies advertising their latest gadgets or discounts? Who hasn’t. One Kippreport reader decided to ‘fight the system’ when she received an SMS from Sharaf DG at the crack of dawn. The following is her account of what happened:

“So I called 101 to block any more SMS advertisement from coming through, and a woman named Fatma told me that if I can see the sender’s name, I’d have to call the company’s SMS department to get my number off their list number or call 181 to block their SMSes. So I call 181, and they told me they do not have the service to block any number, and to call 101. I call back 101, and they said that in order to block the ads I need to SMS 1011 with the message “b” and the name of the sender (or the sender’s 4-digit code). Since the 4-digit code didn’t show on the SMS message, I put “B Sharaf”.  Etisalat replied that “Sharaf” is an invalid sender, and to resend the proper code.

I called 101 again to let them know what happened, and they told me they cannot block names, only digital codes, but I should call 181 to block them.

I told them I already called 181 and they had referred me to 101, and since the SMS only has a name of the company and not their digital code. I also told them that the people at 181 CANNOT help me.

Then I lost my cool. I’d already wasted an hour of my morning trying to block ads that I never signed up for in the first place. So they gave me a number for an Emirates call center  (02 690 2264), BUT IT DIDN’T WORK.

I give up.”

The issue raises several questions: who gives these companies our numbers (presumably Etisalat and DU, but we need concrete answers here)? What right do they have to send messages at all hours of the night? And if calling phone companies to block SMSes doesn’t work, what will?

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  1. CanTheSpam on November 25, 2008 3:05 pm

    I have tried the same thing – using the block method, but it does not work that often, and Etisalat has also given me the same run-around. I have now resorted to directly calling the advertiser company headoffice in question, demanding that I speak to their marketing manager, and when I do speak to him or her, I shout and threaten. You may think this is childish, but it works – the spam ceases, and I usually receive an apology. A tip: do not use the usual “nice-nice-polite-expat approach.” Raise your voice, and mention the words harrassment and police.

  2. Michael on October 7, 2009 6:48 pm

    The above topic was headlinenews sometime in Feb 2009, however since that time I could swear I received more 100 sms spam from different companies eg ( Sharaf DG, Noor Bank, The Sactuary, Alpha Club, Bhs, etc) and when I sent an sms to Etisalat’s 1011, I received that the command was not recognized.

    Anyways the above issue raises 2 import questions

    1) As PR professionals, do we just send press releases even when things don’t work for example the above–“Can’t block”??

    2) Don’t you think that unwanted smses, create a negative image for the companies/organizations that send them.


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