OK, I previously documented my woes with Mobinil customer service re Mobinil WiFi services. At that time, I said that the lack of experience of customer support personnel was not going to affect my continued subscription to their service, however, they have finally done something to convince me to switch networks.

I pay my cell-phone bill online using my credit card. Last time I tried to pay my bill, on 6/7, I was on the phone with a colleague and entered my credit card number instead of my phone number in the field meant for my phone number.

Surprisingly, the transaction went through even though my credit card number bears absolutely no resemblance to any cell-phone number in Egypt. I called Mobile customer service to report this and they told me that the transaction hadn’t gone through, it had only been requested from the bank and that when the time came for the amount to be transfered to Mobinil, their system would reject it since the number I entered was not a valid phone number.

Sadly I believed them. I waited until my credit card bill appeared on the net, and, to my surprise, they had actually withdrawn the money from my account. I contacted customer service again; it was then that the fiasco began.

The first customer service rep I contacted told me that I needed to contact my bank about this since it wasn’t Mobinil’s problem. I called my bank and was informed that the money has been transfered into Mobinil’s account and that unless I started a dispute with the company, there was nothing the bank could do.

Not liking the word “dispute”, I decided to call Mobinil again to see if we could come to some sort of agreement. Unfortunately, the customer service rep I contacted was completely ignorant about credit card transactions. He actually had the audacity to tell me that the money had been transfered to another company, not Mobinil, since the number I entered was not a valid Mobinil cell-phone number.

He insisted on this position even when I gave him the transaction code and reference number of the transaction. Apparently, he thought that Mobinil’s e-payment system automatically directs your transaction to other companies when you enter phone numbers that do not belong to Mobinil. I tried to explain the ludicrousness of this position t0 him, but even the fact that my bill said “Mobinil Internet Payment” in front of the amount withdrawn did not convince this pinnacle of Mobinil customer service.

Frustrated, I thanked the dude and hung up the phone. I then made a final attempt at contacting customer service. During this attempt, the call failed several times. Either the signal in my area suffered a sudden drop, or the people at Mobinil have a throttle system that blocks you after a certain number of calls or if one of the reps marks you persona non grata  — I am leaning towards the latter since the customer service rep I finally contacted, after several failed attempts, made sure to tell me that I had called two times before.

Anyway, this customer service rep was the most helpful so far. He assured me that if the amount was in Mobinil’s account, it would be returned. He also gave me a phone number, 0123202113, to call to report the problem.

I called this number and reported the case. After reporting the problem and spending several minutes with the customer service rep, he finally confirmed my tale by searching in their database using my credit card number.

So, get this, they CONFIRMED what had happened. They found the payment in their system. The guy actually read me the details of the payment including the amount paid, the service fee paid, the date I made the payment (6/7) and when it was requested by Mobinil (9/7). He then told me that he would report this to the concerned department and that the issue should now be resolved. I was feeling pretty good about Mobinil at this point.

I then got a call last Friday from Mobinil informing me that they were looking into my complaint. The person who called me asked a couple of questions and declined my offer to give him the transaction code and reference number again, telling me that they had all the information they needed and that the complaint was being looked into.

Imagine my surprise today when I called to check on the status of my complaint only to be told that this not Mobinil’s problem, but my bank’s problem. So, after CONFIRMING that the money was in their account and that it was associated with a “phone number”, actually the first 10 digits of my credit card number,  that was invalid, they were still claiming it was not their problem?

I finally called my bank and started a dispute today. Will keep posting updates to let you know whether or not they fix this. Either way, I am now seriously considering another network. Eh, I wanted to upgrade my iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4 anyway, might as well make the purchase from a company that respects my intellect and actually knows what it is doing.

Here is a brief summary of the three core incompetences of Mobinil:-

  1. They have a flawed e-payment system that will accept payments to non-existent phone numbers. So if you make a typing mistake, there is no failsafe mechanism.
  2. They have incompetent customer service representatives who cannot answer anything outside the most basic questions.
  3. Even when they confirmed that the money was in their account and was associated with an invalid phone number, they were too lazy to do anything about it and blamed the entire problem on the bank.

So, Etisalat and Vodafone, what offers do you have? I am looking for an iPhone 4 and a postpaid line, got any good offers?

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