Sunday, April 19, 2009

So Oman Mobile disconnected my phone today

I was woken up at 5.45am this morning by an SMS from Oman Mobile: "Dear Customer, you reached 75% of your credit limit (R.O. 150). For customer service please dial 1234." I ignored the message and tried to get a few more precious moments of sleep before the alarm rings at 6.20 as usual.

At 10.15am, another SMS: "Dear Customer, your outgoing calls have been barred out due to exceeding your credit limit (R.O. 150).... "

How did I go from 75% of quota to exceeding it in four and a half hours without even using the phone in that period?

And why is my credit limit is 150 rials and who set it at that?

My monthly bill is about 30 to 40 rials, sometimes more, often less. When I'm traveling or if anyone from the family is away the bill goes up to much more than 150. My credit has always been good and I've been an Oman Mobile customer for 13 years now. They never once thought of increasing my credit limit on their own, and I've never bothered to ask for one.

How did my bill reach 150 rials when I haven't made any international calls this past month and except for 24 hours in Abu Dhabi for the Coldplay concert, I hadn't even left the country?

I called 1234 and was told that my bill is 38 rials for March (this bill still hasn't reached me in the post) and 116 for this month so far, of which 112 rials is data usage. I asked what was my data usage in megabytes or gigabytes and was told that they are unable to tell from their system, I had to go to the nearest Omantel counter. No problem. I walked to the CBD counter, just a five minute walk from the bank. Three different guys there scratched their heads together and finally came up with the answer "we'll call you back" (that was 4 hours ago, still no call).

So I came back to the bank and looked up the tariff on Oman Mobile's website to try to figure out my usage on my own. It says that for Pay As You Go 3G usage the tariff is:

0-20MB. 0.5 baisa per kb
20-100MB. 0.25 baisa per kb
>100MB. 0.005 baisa per kb

In other words, as I calculated, for the first 20MB you would pay 10.24 rials, then you'd pay 20.48 rials for the next 80MB and after that it would 50 baisas per MB (5 rials per GB).

Based on that my bill would for something like 16GB of data which is absolutely impossible. The only internet data I consume my phone is for Twitter (using Twibble, which is just text), and whenever I'm waiting in a queue somewhere I spend my time catching up with feeds on Google Reader (again mostly text). I don't even use 16GB of bandwidth on my home adsl account which is online 24/7.

I emailed someone high up in Omantel to ask if my calculations are wrong. He replied that I was right, but their system first keeps track of usage based on the most basic 0-20MB Pay As You Go tariff and then "the adjustments of usage beyond the first 20MB will happen at the end of the month."

In other words I have been criminally over charged. My usage was probably around 300MB but since the end of the month is still 11 days away, the system hasn't made the tariff adjustment yet and what I paid today is about triple what I'm supposed to pay. The stupid arbitrary quota made the system disconnect my phone and the people at the counter don't know how the billing system works so they just took the present outstanding as shown on the screen and made me pay that amount. I won't know how much I overpaid till the credit shows in my bill next month.

The way out of this would be to subscribe to one of their monthly data packages, cheapest of which is 19 rials for 1GB, the next is 15GB for 34 rials. No middle ground.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Monday, April 13, 2009