Junk SMS: customers' nemesis a norm in UAE

DUBAI - Junk SMS-weary customers in the UAE have no choice but to bear the menace of unwanted promotional material on their cell phones.


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Wed 23 Jul 2008, 2:18 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:17 PM

Though a nuisance, say customers, companies promoting products through the four-code short message services (SMS) has become a norm in the UAE.

"It is known as the value-SMS service and is a multiple promotional system in the country," says Omar Al Muzakki, Director of Product Marketing, Etisalat.

Customers accuse the service provider of compromising their privacy and passing on their phone numbers to third parties. However, Etisalat insists that it does not do that. "We respect the customers' privacy. However, we know that companies make their own database by using names and numbers collected through lotteries and promotions.

"In certain cases, we have seen exactly the same data with two companies," says Al Muzzaki.

Etisalat is only the facilitator of the service. "Companies have to obtain permission from the Ministry of Information, and upon registration with Etisalat, have to provide a copy of their trade licence that has been issued by the Ministry of Economy along with other documents," explains Al Muzzaki.

Though companies are using the Etisalat port, the service provider does not have any say in the kind of content being sent out. Strict guidelines have to be followed though, says the official.

"We, of course, lay down guidelines that these companies have to follow including the SMS message being in accordance with the UAE's religious, social and moral norms," he explains.

Al Muzzaki says that Etisalat does not take responsibility for the chat content offered by some companies. "It is just like junk mail, you either read it or delete it," he explains.

However, there is no direct monitoring of the service.

du, the other service provider in the country says it has a strict policy on random SMS messages.

"We have imposed strict limits on the number of times our customers receive SMS from us," confirmed Farid Faraidooni, Executive Vice-President Commercial, du.

"Messages are sent only to those who have opted for this service and further filtered to the relevant target audience with pertinent promotions that benefit them. We do not sell our database to third parties under any conditions," said Faraidooni.


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