Tag Archives | Etisalat

in which I try to buy a new phone: phase three

Recap: you don’t even want to know. Apparently if you are given a phone by your employer and then want to migrate that number into an account with your own name, you are dreaming the impossible dream.  I decided that I’d just suck it up, get a phone with a new number, and then spend god knows how long trying to figure out how many accounts, passwords, and services are pegged to the old number.

This time, though, I went to a different kiosk, in a different, glossier mall, and I would make no mention of the fact that I had ever had any kind of phone at all, much less a business account.

The woman behind the counter looked at me. You want a new phone? Do you have already an existing account with Etisalat?

I remembered to breathe. No, I said. I just want to buy a phone. No contract, month-to-month, just buy the phone.

Oh. yes, ma’am we can do that, absolutely.

Great. I began to put my various forms of ID on the counter.

Oh but ma’am, the system is down. We have the technicians working but the system is down. You come back maybe this evening?

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I nodded and smiled and did what any good Emirates-dwelling person does when confronted by hardship in a mall. I went shopping. Bought a lovely pair of shoes for work, on big sale, from a shop called Hotic, which is apparently a big brand in Turkey. For all I know it’s like the Payless Shoes of Turkey, but what the heck, they were on sale and will be great for work.

My retail therapy worked: miraculously, the Etisalat counter was up and running! I got in line, behind a man buying three phones for work, and a couple buying a pair of phones. I waited. Waited. Waited. The kiosk is a miserable place to work: it’s just an island of counters, with sales clerks working on three sides, each with its own queue. There’s nowhere, in short, to hide, when you’re working the kiosk.  Business guy took his three phones and left, first person in the couple did her paper work, then the guy did his paperwork, and then a technician appeared.

You will have to shut down. I need to fix the wiring.


Okay, I did not, actually, say that. But it may have shown on my face nevertheless, because the woman running the kiosk said that my transaction could be finished and then they’d shut down.

And we began: ID cards, credit card, which plan or no plan, pre-pay, post-pay, this or that, white or black, actually black is all they have in stock in 16GB, okay black it is, then.

People circled the kiosk like sharks, not believing that the booth was closed if I was still standing there, very clearly finishing a transaction. The woman helping me wasn’t sure of the code, didn’t know what to copy, couldn’t open the cupboard, tried to help a man with his delinquent bill, dropped my cards, typed in the wrong plan, asked her two co-workers for help at every point, and all the while the technician stood and watched and waited. It was like the reverse “Waiting for Godot:” Godot had arrived and no one was ready for him.

Finally, after 90 minutes of standing at the kiosk, I had my new phone. I also now have a new number.

And I also, of course, still have my old smashed phone, with my old number. I have no idea how to turn off the old number, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to take a letter from my employer saying that it’s okay to shut it down.



Continue Reading · on January 30, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, tech life

in which I try to buy a new phone: phase two

 To recap: iPhone iFell to the iCement, screen smashed, time to replace phone lest shards of glass eat their way into my eardrums. I take myself to the Etisalat kiosk to buy a new phone.

I am pleasantly surprised that there is no line.  The nice woman at the counter nods as I say I want a new phone and she types in my phone number.

No ma’am, that is a business number. We cannot give you a new phone.

But I’ve been paying the bills on this phone for a year and I bought this phone, right here at this counter. So can’t I just buy a new phone, with the same number?

No ma’am, so sorry, this phone is registered to the business, so we cannot sell to you without authorization from them.

Okay, what if I got a new number and just paid for it myself, without the business.

Ma’am you are already having a land-line or Etisalat account in your own name for six months?

Well, no, but you can see that I’ve been paying the bills on this current number for a year.

No ma’am, that will not work. You need to have an account in your name already for six months, ma’am. Is the new rules for the 5, ma’am.

Okay, okay, so fine, I won’t get a 5 right now, but I need to replace this phone. I’ll just get the 4s and replace this broken phone.

No, ma’am we don’t have the 4s in stock ma’am. Only the 5. You need a letter, ma’am, from your employer, saying that it is okay for you to switch this number to your own name and then we can give you the 5, ma’am.

[Please note that I have not yet raised my voice, throttled anyone, or thrown anything. I am telling myself that it is not the counter-person’s fault that I can’t just BUY.A.GODDAMN.PHONE]

I left the kiosk, emailed two different people in business services and human resources to explain that I needed a permission slip to buy a new phone. When we first arrived in Abu Dhabi, lo these many months ago, we got little Nokia phones that were already switched on and ready to use, a fact that I appreciate way more now than I did then. That phone number migrated with me to the 4s that I bought (with no permission slips) last year.

Approximately fourteen emails later, a wonderful woman in HR issued a stamped, signed, very official letter giving me permission to have full control over “my” phone.

The next day I went back to the kiosk, official letter in hand, sure that I would be leaving the mall with my new phone. Two different people were working at the kiosk, but hey, that shouldn’t be a problem, right? I mean, I had an official letter, stamped and on letterhead, with signatures and serial numbers. What could go wrong?

See earlier on bwhahahahaha…what could go wrong, indeed?

Ma’am you want to switch this number to your own name? You have been having an Etisalat account already in your name, a land-line or TV or something?

No, I say, but I have a letter here saying that I can switch this phone to my name.

No, ma’am, not without a pre-existing account, ma’am. I will verify with my supervisor, just a moment ma’am.

I decide there are few things more frustrating than confronting a bureaucracy where many of the decisions are conducted in a language you don’t know.  The man returns to the counter, deeply saddened, I can tell, by the news he is about to deliver.

No, ma’am, we cannot switch this phone to your name. You could maybe have a new number but only with the pre-existing account, ma’am.

Okay. Fine. Let’s just keep this number in the company name and I’ll get a new phone.

You need a letter to buy the new phone ma’am. From your employer.

You have a letter right here, saying I can switch this number to my name. Isn’t that pretty much the same thing?  It’s what I was told yesterday. And a year ago, I bought this phone right here, at this counter, with no permission from my employer  [it’s possible I may have shaken my smashed phone just the eensiest bit in his direction].

The man frowns, types something into the computer, looks up at me. No, ma’am that is impossible, a mistake. You should not have bought that phone here.

Yes but I did buy this phone here and now I want to replace it.

No, ma’am, I am sorry but you need a letter saying that it is all right for you to buy the new phone. And with that letter ma’am, then you can buy the new phone and keep your number.

You’re saying there’s really no way to migrate this number to my own account?

The man looks devastated, truly regretting what he is about to say. No, ma’am. There is no way. You need a letter to get the new phone with this number.

So if I come back here with a letter saying I can get a new phone, then we can just take care of this upgrade?

No ma’am, I’m so sorry. You will need to go to the main office. We cannot do any of these sorts of business transactions here. Only personal mobile service here, ma’am. Yours is a business number.



Continue Reading · on January 30, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, expat, tech life

in which I try to buy a new phone: phase one

So this happened:


Did you know the sound of an iPhone screen hitting cement sounds remarkably similar to the sound of eggs cracking?  The lovely marimekko case I have for this phone, which Husband got for me in response to the fit of nostalgia I had in the New York marimekko store, is pretty but like so many pretty things is utterly impractical. Ol’ marimekko should stick to prints & stripes & fantastic housewares because this groovy case? Sucks. There’s no little ridge around the top to prevent the screen from whacking the ground.  And without the little ridgey-bit? Smashety-crackety crack crack.

Props to Apple, though: the screen was smashed but the phone still worked. But I started keeping it first in a baggie and then in an  ill-fitting plastic pouch, out of fear that some tiny shard of glass would work its way into my ear drum. Glass shard phobia led me to think to myself, “self, why not get yourself an iphone 5 because glass & ear canals are an unhappy partnership.”  So myself takes myself to the Etisalat kiosk at one of the malls around here (Etisalat, for those of you not in the know, is the UAE equivalent of Verizon. Or Sprint. Or ATT. Or whatever local branch of hell serves your particular cable needs).

Yep, that’s what I did. I went to the kiosk and got a new phone. End of story.


Think again, grasshopper.


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Continue Reading · on January 30, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, expat, technorati, UAE

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