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Etisalat e-Life: The nightmare that wouldn’t end

Etisalat e-Life: The nightmare that wouldn’t end

Was this just all a dream? No, the nightmare that was Etisalat's e-Life connection process was real. After spending five weeks endeavoring to upgrade to Etisalat’s e-Life, Eva Fernandes is absolutely horrified and frustrated with what passes off as customer service and support in the UAE.

September 11, 2011 3:25 by

It is perhaps one of the greatest ironies of living in Dubai that getting high speed internet is an extremely slow process. If you’re expecting some kind of fantasy customer service dream, think again. Expect nothing short of a nightmare, delivered by UAE’s older (and yet somehow not wiser) telecoms operator, Etisalat.

Some time back, after several calls from the Etisalat e-life team, encouraging us to sign up for the package, we finally caved and said yes.

Now five weeks, six Etisalat technicians visits and an innumerable number of complaint calls logged later, our apartment is finally hooked up to the internet. To say the experience was tiring and tedious would be an understatement. Calling it “The most thorough test for sainthood” would be a better fit.

But let’s start from the top, shall we? Prior to our internet upgrade, we were happily on Al Shamil 256Kbps that was oh-so popular at the turn of the millennium. Sure, that meant the illegal downloads we never pursued would have been a prolonged affair. And sure, we could barely watch a video without it breaking up every two seconds to “buffer”—but overall we had no complaints. Of course, this was until we started getting call upon call from Etisalat proclaiming the wonders of e-Life. Though we politely refused, the call center did not take no for an answer.


The pestering lady on the phone assured us that upgrading would be a pain-free move; after all our building had been fitted with the e-Life wall-board units. She also promised that a technician from Etisalat would come to our place no sooner than two working days, to officially make the switch. After that fateful phone conversation, our Al Shamil connection was significantly faster, with a download speed of 3Mbps, even though nobody from Etisalat had been in. Impressed, we enjoyed our almost instant YouTube videos and other legal cyber activities, thinking Etisalat really got a falsely bad rep over this e-Life business. They had upgraded us prematurely and we’d soon be enjoying high speed internet in a couple of days. How silly we were to believe that it would all be so simple.


After waiting a week for the technician to come, we called Etisalat to complain about the no-show. We were promised that another technician will definitely come. “No we can’t give you their phone number, the technician, himself, will call you” was the response we got when we pestered them for more information. And though we were a little peeved, we should have taken this ambiguity as a sign of things to come. Over the next four weeks we had to deal with six different technicians, all entering our apartment promising to hook us up to e-Life and all leaving saying they did not have this router or that cable.

DAY 125,670.64

Even though the whole process seemed like it was going on forever, at least we could still connect to the internet while in the middle of our e-Life crisis. But the straw that broke the camel’s back, was when…


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  1. Francesca on September 11, 2011 5:21 pm

    Yes, I had a similar experience. I spoke a colleague at work who said that when she had logged a call with Etisalat to move a router from her hall to her bedroom, they charged her AED 100/- and they closed the call without resolving the issue completely.

    When she called back, the next engineer said that she shouldn’t have been charged and she could claim the money back by going to the head office. By then she was so fedup with all the constant calling that she didn’t bother trying to claim the money.

  2. ambreen on September 11, 2011 10:28 pm

    After we moved house, it took etisalat 5 weeks to hook us up to the phone, internet and tv.. It was like being thrown back in to a previous century ! I love books but there’s only so much you can do without internet and tv these days. E-life? E-death was more like it :(

  3. Mohd on September 12, 2011 4:29 am

    I am facing the same issue. Still waiting,
    This is my 4th week!

  4. Andrew on September 12, 2011 7:17 am

    I had some trouble with them back in 2009, when Abu Dhabi was being shifted from ADSL to fibreoptic.

    The initial installation was painless, but over the first year the building suffered some disconnections as cables were knocked out of place and the bandwith ran short.

    However after these issues were eventually ironed out, I upgraded to e-Life triple; amazingly without a hitch. They even provided me with fair compensation for some lengthy disconnections that ran over long public holidays.

    These days their front-end customer service seems quite useful, too bad the back-office and technical crews are still throughly disorganised.

  5. M on September 13, 2011 2:04 pm

    Sounds like what I went through with Du earlier this year. I upgraded from a 1MBPS to an 8MBPS home package last August, and when I moved home this March, asked them to transfer it. They set it up for me at the previous 1MBPS package, and claimed their system still showed me on that, although I had been paying for and receiving 8MBPS for 6 months! It then took countless calls, 4 technician visits and 3 days without internet, before my speed was restored. But that wasnt the end of it! Du then proceeded to mess up my billing and overcharged me for 2 months continuously, claiming that I had asked them to switch me to a different package which charged based on usage. Many many phone calls later it was finally restored and a refund was given, though it should never have gotten to that point in the first place. The lack of understanding in their customer service staff is just incredulous!

  6. Suha on September 15, 2011 7:39 am

    Besides the prolonged process it took us to upgrade (over 6 months), the disappointment that we can’t get connection in most of the upper floor, while it was better with Al Shamil, we had to go through a horrific experience in the past two weeks when we suddenly, on the first day of school, both our land line and internet got disconnected for three days. We found out that our villa was invaded while we were at work by etisalat tech, who were trying to connect our neighbor to e-life. While we were clueless, we discovered some etisalat box fixed inside our garden! And some wiring that was pinned all over our roof! After like 10 frustrating calls and one visit to their main center, it turned out that the people who did the fiber-optic wiring in the beginning took a short cut and installed it in our garden, so whenever a neighbor will upgrade, they’ll have to connect through our garden!

  7. zouzou on September 15, 2011 10:46 am

    Welcome to Etisalat. I think we should petition to have a third operator that can compete with Etislat and coudl bring real service, price, and be customer friendly.

    the lack of competition is the problem.

  8. Anon on September 16, 2011 9:57 am

    Etisalat actually tricked me into signing up for e-Life, when all I wanted was the cheaper Al Shamil. Of course, it wasn’t until AFTER they got me to sign the contract that a customer service representative told me that my area doesn’t yet have the right fibre optic cables installed and I would have to wait up to 6 months before I could actually use it.


  9. Raker on September 23, 2011 3:24 am


    My situation is kind of funny. I live in RAK, where we literally live in the stone age. I live in the most elegant neighborhood, Khozam.

    We applied for e-Life connection on the 12th of July. Since then I have been calling customer support contionusly, and the only reply I would get back in “Sorry Sir, but the landline fiberoptic cables has not been hooked up in your neighborhood so far.” and my typical reply would be, when are we gonna get them…? All of the costumer service representatives replied back saying… “We have no ides”

    Then who the fuck does???

  10. SM on October 9, 2011 4:15 pm

    I can share more than a dozen (no kidding) examples of Etisalat’s blatant cheating tactics to get you to sign up, their complete ineptitude in handling greviances and unbelievable indifference to pleas and requests through the experiences of my office colleagues.

    These days we trade the week’s ‘best’ horror stories for the right to wear a dubious badge of honor at having been yet again hoodwinked.

  11. chaz on October 10, 2011 4:17 am

    I still have Al Shamil. Etisalat upgraded the building recently and their calls have started. Latest is did I know that with fibre optics Al Shamil will not work so I have to upgrade to e-life. I wonder who prepares the scripts for these calls. Must be a competition going on for the silliest wording to use.

  12. G on October 11, 2011 1:33 pm

    Take all the elements of the author’s tale, add an extra dash of home relocation, sprinkle with a number of blatant lies from the service provider, marinate for 12 weeks, adding several loud, angry phonecalls, threats to write to newspapers, broken promises of return-calls and conflicting information about whether or not fibre-optic cables exist in my area…….allow to simmer for a further few weeks, then deal with several technicians wanting to visit, suffer through two visits without connection…..and hey-presto! You now have your e-Life services Madam. Congratulations.

    Etisalat – 1
    Me – 0
    Therapist’s invoice – AED 1500

  13. SHN on October 19, 2011 2:43 pm

    Here I was silly me, only in my 3rd week of waiting thinking that mine must be the longest a connection must have taken!!! By the sound of above article and comments I apparantly still have 2 more weeks to go. I subscribed for E-life 3 weeks ago when I was told it will take anyweher between 3-5 days for the connection to happen, oh what a lie! Every single day since then I’ve been on the phone with them.
    If there was a petition against Etisalat, would love to sign it.

  14. ARNOLD on September 23, 2012 9:05 am


  15. Amanda on September 25, 2012 3:24 pm

    AHHH!!! I have been going crazy, I have only waited about a week and I thought I’d have it by now…but NOOOOOO and now I am reading 5 weeks….oh cheese and rice!!!

  16. Sukumar on September 30, 2012 7:46 am

    Ever since i moved to e-life, the date and time function in my phone never works. If i set it up as 30th September, it will go back to 15th Jan or Feb as soon as I receive a call. It is getting impossible to check who called and at what time. Please let me know if others are also facing similar problem.

  17. chantall on November 3, 2012 12:51 pm

    Absolutely horrendous!!!!! Been waiting since 19 October 12 for internet and TV, the internet took them 2 weeeks to install and then one guy rocked up without the cable also and promised that he is coming the following day – that never happened! waited another 1week for them to finally come and then they installed the internet and was told that the TV will work in JUST 24 HOURS! how about just 24 days I would rather believe it! Made several calls to Etisalat asking them to please put my tv on as it says “not subscribed” , about 20 calls later and NOTHING! stuck in the desert with no internet , tv or phone is not fun!

  18. farley on February 4, 2013 9:00 am

    Same problem with me, three weeks now and i am still waiting for their promises that they are coming but nothing happen. If the said that etisalat is a gaint company, then i will call them a SLEEPING GIANT.. WORST SERVICE IN 21st CENTURY


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