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Etisalat warned for attempting to sabotage rival’s ad campaign


Telecom providers ‘fight’ to attract new customers, as mobile number portability is rolled out.

November 25, 2013 5:49 by

When the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that, by December, residents would finally be able to switch between telecom operators while keeping the same number, it revealed that it would boost competition in the state-controlled sector.

As it turns out, mobile number portability (MNP), while a useful feature for customers, might just spark the beginning of a tense relationship between telecom providers, du and Etisalat.

Looking out of the office window in Dubai Media City, a big blue billboard reads: “Don’t be stuck in your old world”. It is part of an ongoing advertising campaign by du to raise awareness about the soon-to-be available MNP feature in the UAE. Of course, the campaign is intended to do a lot more than that. It openly (and yet somehow, rather sneakily) encourages customers of its rival to make the switch, quite bluntly comparing being an Etisalat customer to being “stuck in your old world”.

It also informs any potential customers that, should they want to express an interest in making the switch, they need only send an SMS message with the word “CHANGE” to 3553 and receive instructions from du on how to migrate between operators.

As it turns out, Etisalat didn’t take this too well.

In fact, the company decided to block the number entirely, preventing its customers from sending the message and, essentially, sabotaging du’s advertising campaign. Although after being instructed to remove the block last Thursday (November 22), Etisalat has failed to do so, prompting the TRA to issue a violation notice.

In a statement, du said that despite this temporary setback, the company believes that “forming a competitive atmosphere in the country is a vital and healthy practice”.

MNP was initially meant to be introduced by the TRA in mid 2008, but has repeatedly been delayed due to technical issues.

Do you think that du crossed the line or is Etisalat’s response petty and uncalled for? Share your thoughts via Facebook, Twitter or in the comments box below. 

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  1. charles on November 26, 2013 6:30 am

    Pathetic of Etisalat but typical.
    Nothing changes huh

  2. Samier Amritwar on November 26, 2013 12:48 pm

    Yes its absolutely stupid step taken by Etisalat ! By this action infact they have sabotage their brand equity and giving du the edge !!!!

  3. Mohanad on November 27, 2013 1:32 am

    I actually use both operators and they both have failed miserably in delivering an acceptable customer experience/ service… i would really advise them to focus on improving their customer service and offering instead of trying to waste resources on competitive advertising stunts and campaigns that are full of empty promises.

  4. Shirley on November 27, 2013 11:44 am

    I agree that the competition should be there… so there is no operator could monopoly the market… Anyway, Etisalat should be more open to competition, but not trying to block it.


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