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?


MNB4800 said...

Or switch to Nawras and never bother have such stupid problems again! Problem solved! Oh and to top it off, you get smaller bills!

From an Ex Long time Oman Mobile user!

Not sure how will that effect your black berry usage.

Oh and keep an eye open for Nawras as a TRUE ISP (here's hoping).

Amber said...

I blogged about these same messages that I got from Oman mobile. I called 1234 and we had a somewhat heated debate where I tried to just get them to simply explain how all of this was happening. The conversation, after several phone calls, ended with "your phone will not be turned off."

Luckily it wasn't. Unfortunately, I'm not as smart as you and I suspect I have been being overcharged for months now...I don't use the internet AT all and I generally pay a lot more than you do monthly.

So sorry. Good luck getting your phone on and your money back.

3anooda said...

please come back at the end of the month and tell us how much they overcharged u - LOOOL

if u think about it, its sort of like a forced public offering - they are short on cash so forcing pple to pay before the end of the month by cutting the lines. LOOOOL

Anonymous said...

OmanMobile/OmanTel seem to run 3 parell accounting systems for postpaid bills – the Paper Invoice One, The InOffice (their shops) one, the actual cash receipt system. They don’t have any real time linkage meaning bills like yours may over-run and when you pay a bill they might still show as money owed.
Its like they simply added extra layers onto the original program to come up with – total lack of information.

Amjad said...

Am I getting it wrong or there is actually a BlackBerry package of unlimited data usage, the Local Unlimited package here for just 18.5 rials? Or is that something completely different?

Anonymous said...

Agree with you & Amber. It IS an outrage and it IS stupid when you realize that paying excess amount to get your phone working is very easy peasy, but God Forbid should you decide to get that amount credited or *shudder* reimbursed.

I used to live happily on a 50 rial credit limit (it was decided for me by the amount of (refundable) security I deposited at SIM purchase time). Then came 3G & there shot up my Internet Usage. Previously, I used to get a 50%, 75% and 90% (of 50 RO) sms; this time around its been 3 months of normal usage (=20/30 RO/m) and not a single peep.

While they implemented the system on you, they de-implemented it on me. Wonder if its good?


muscati said...

MNB4800 - I thought about switching to Nawras but decided to give Omantel a chance because I know quite a few people who have joined the company in the past couple of years and are working really hard at changing the company. Now I'm not so sure. But switching to Nawras won't reduce my bills by much because their data costs are the same as Omantel. Also, Nawras caps the broadband speed on their 3G network while Omantel doesn't.

As for the Blackberry, my device is given to me by my workplace and the switch to Nawras wouldn't affect that.

ynotoman - You are right and this problem was entirely caused by the billing system. My friend in Omantel, the guy who found all the answers for me, told me that they had anticipated problems like this and had requested the billing department to exclude data usage from the quota and no one should get disconnected for data usage until the end of the billing period. Apparently my inquiry with him caused a huge problem inside the company and people were running around finding answers till night yesterday.

amjad - I wasn't disconnected on my Blackberry line, this was my personal phone. Yes they do have an unlimited local package for Blackberry, but that only covers Blackberry data like email and attachments, Blackberry Messenger, etc. If you use your blackberry to browse the net on the browser that doesn't come part of the unlimited.

Amber said...

let us know when you get your phone back on. I'm sure we are all interested in their explanation and exactly how long it takes you.

muscati said...

Amber - I paid the full bill amount immediately when I went to Omantel's counter in CBD and the phone was reconnected within an hour or two.

I still don't have an official explanation from the people who I dealt with in Omantel but I got the full details from my friend in Omantel's head office (which I had already posted here). The billing system should not have allowed my data usage to be added to my voice usage until the end of the billing period. Data is initially added up at the highest price of 0.5 baisa per kb and only at the end of the billing cycle does the system recompile it according to their slabs. In my case the data would have probably come to maybe 30 or 40 rials. But since the system erroneously disconnected me I went and paid the full amount which I was told to pay.

Apparently my mistake was to call 1234 and then go to the counter. I should have just called the general manager of the division and go an explanation from him and he would have fixed it without me having to pay 150 rials.

Wardat_il'7leej said...

I have been getting the same over charge though I don’t even browse the net on my phone! I use our home network directly and thus done go through the Oman mobile TAIF or any other net service.

Is it just me or are consumers being duped by wrong billing systems in a supposed well established telephone company? I would understand such issues arising with a newly established organisation or with system switching, but with something as simple as added service there shouldn’t be a mix up with billing statements.

If you are to get 3 different billing statements (from previous responses above) what would justify that correct payments are being made?

Wes said...

well guys there's good news on the horizon... while the tyrant omanmobile charges uncapped packages by the hour and the gigabyte (how stupid of them to go back to the dial-up billing system by time for BROADBAND! defeats the purpose!), nawras just released a capped unlimited service now but of course there's a catch... the famous Fair Usage policy, which in light of the incomprehensible and absolutely unfeasable packages both companies present for broadband, is actually a manageable deal... so basically u will NOT be charged for any extra usage beyond, say 29 rials a month... unlike poor muscati! check it out guys

Anonymous said...

3 manually interfaced billing systems...ridiculous

zaid said...


What if we didn't know a GM in Omantel? Nothing moves in that company unless you know someone over there.

The whole structure in that organization is screwed up. Lots of people still don't know what their job descriptions are.

I haven't used their 3G service yet, but thanks for sharing what happened and all the info with us.

Degoat said...

I had post paid, got rid of it.

Now i am happy with my pre paid :D


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AamerJaved said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
معاوية الرواحي said...

wow. It is really magic. Do like me and change to Nawras. Although they disconnect your line if you didn't pay in 37 days regardless of the amount of your bill. but it is much better than Oman Mobile.

I had a hard time reading your blog because of the font, am nearly blind. Any way thank you ...

i will visit you every day from now.



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