Bahrain: Telecoms accused of higher charges & reduced services

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Telecoms customers in Bahrain have been complaining lately of higher charges and call rates along with reduced data quality.

Consumers have further complained that telecom operators have been replacing many of their low cost plans with pricier options – without informing them.

According to Bahrain’s Daily Tribune (DT) :

“The low cost plans were either scrapped entirely or replaced with pricier options,” a consumer told DT News adding: “In other cases they simply hiked the charges.”

Companies used to provide a free local and international calls earlier, said another user adding that all of them are now “scrapped”.

This, according to Abdallah, a Hoora resident, is “very surprising”, as many options were available earlier, when the “competition was high”.

Many benefits were offered earlier which includes “free international and local calls as well as a generous data package”, he said.

“With my previous mobile line, I used to pay BD4 for free international and local calls, and high speed unlimited data package.

“But now I have to pay BD 7 for an upgraded package with lesser free calls and inferior data package,” Abdallah pointed out.

Ameena, another resident, told DT News that she lost “free calling minutes for being late to refill credit”.

“Two weeks ago, I went to a customer service centre to refill credit as my line was disconnected due to non payment.

“However, when they reconnected my line, I lost all the free calling minutes and I was also told would have to higher rental,” she said adding: “this was greatly disappointing.”

One of the telecom provider has increased their monthly rentals for the existing customers.

A customer told DT News that he received a text message requiring him to pay “BD6 instead of BD5 from now on”.

“Effective from your bill that is issued after the 30th of August 2017, your monthly plan rental will be increased by BD 1,” reads another message received by a subscriber from a telecom provider.  Customers also pointed out that the companies have even changed the billing cycle of plans.

Responding to the queries received at its call centre, TRA earlier clarified in a statement that the authority takes no role in devising new plans or packages introduced by the mobile operators in the Kingdom.

TRA’s Manager of Consumer Affairs, Mariam Almannai also confirmed that the authority is “continuously monitors the ongoing developments in the Kingdom’s telecommunications market and takes the necessary measures to protect the interests of subscribers to ensure continued fair and effective competition between telecommunications providers”.

“The mobile market in Bahrain has seen a significant development since the introduction of the third mobile operator and the removal of the ex ante regulation of mobile retail services,” added Almannai. When TRA deregulated the market in 2008 one of the stated objectives was to “enhance competition and meet the needs of users in the market”.

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