I have become a little obsessed after a recent fracas with the long time monopoly provider. After 10 attempts to pay my bills (as usual) on line and two ignored emails, I finally found the courage and the time to call their erroneously named "help desk". It appears that the reason why I have been getting automated payment receipt numbers and then "payment not authorised" messages is because a decision was recently made by fiat to no longer accept non-UAE credit or debit cards for payment of bills. Apparently it was considered appropriate to only inform customers of this when they ring up and complain, not to put it in the automated email that is sent with the payment "confirmations". (I do not have a local credit card, suprisingly, perhaps, I find a Barclays Visa and a Barclaycard usually sufficient for my purposes).
I asked the genuinely pleasant person on the other end of the line what I should do to pay my bill, which is now about 2 weeks overdue. I was invited to visit a local payment center. My protest that I do not have the time or the inclination to schlepp all the way down there was met with the helpful suggestion that I send someone on my behalf. Great. I do not have a car, but no doubt I can send a servant to pay on my behalf with the credit card that they no longer accept. You can go to one of the many cash payment places, she helpfully suggested. Sure, I usually carry AED1000 in readies....Just how backward and un-user friendly can the otherwise very generous patrons of the local telecom monopoly be? (I note in this regard their "voluntary" payment to the latest state charitable mobilisation).
Upon schlepping over to the local telecom office today I found that I could in fact pay in person with my foreign-issued VISA card if I wanted (but NOT on-line)...This seems like a security issue therefore. But perhaps there is a credit card war too. I was charged a 2% mark up on a flight recently due to paying with a FOREIGN Visa card. Some residents from a neighbouring country could find cash use the norm over next few months....perhaps we will all be affected by a (US encouraged) tightening of control over financial flows around here.....