more complaints, and a milestone

Looking at some blogs written by people living in the region it seems that customer service, or at least the lack thereof, is a very real and ongoing problem. Ann, from “A Canadian in Abu Dhabi” is having fun and games with Etisalat; Seabee over at “Life in Dubai” has written numerous times about poor customer service whilst I struggle on with the banks here, not to mention a new wrinkle this weekend which I will go into in a sec.

As you know from my earlier post we decided to open a separate bank account for me, and we chose the Royal Bank of Scotland, for no reason other than they seemed very helpful. And they are. Opening the account was a painless exercise and I received my ATM card and cheque book within a week as promised, which considering how long HSBC took, is a record. But then it all went wrong. The bank sends the ATM card and the PIN separately (as they should of course) but for some reason the card was successfully delivered, but not the PIN. So I left it a few days and then I called my relationship manager. She found out the status and called me back to tell me that apparently they had tried to deliver the PIN but I never answer my phone (hmmm I don’t think so) and so the first PIN had been returned to the branch. A second PIN had been issued on the 2nd June, and was out for delivery. It was now the 8th and no sign of it. She then arranged with me (and the courier on the other line) that it would be delivered to me, at home, the following day. Great. So I worked from home that day, and surprise surprise, no one came. So I called the bank again the day after. They were mortified to hear that this had happened again (I did start to get a feeling like they weren’t buying my story) and promised to sort it out. The courier (Royal Express) then also called me the morning of the 10th to say, “so sorry” but they would definitely deliver it to my office the same day. Of course when I left at 5pm they had not been. So Thursday morning I called the bank again, and threw my toys out of the cot. I demanded in no uncertain terms that they deliver it (didn’t care how or by whom) the same day as I really did not want another weekend with no access to my cash. I then had a call from my relationship manager, very apologetic, to confirm that this had been escalated and the PIN would be with be by 1pm (at the office). Around 11am my phone rang – it was the courier to tell me he was standing outside my house but no one was there. Long story short, I yelled a bit (OK a lot) and eventually that afternoon my PIN was delivered to my office. Sigh.

water cooler

[example of a water cooler, source of the trouble]

Sharaf DG also called me Thursday, to inform me that the water cooler we had taken in for repair (for the second time) was ready for collection (after a mere 3.5 weeks). So we duly went down there Friday to collect said cooler. By the way this unit is less than a year old, and was bought in August last year. See the picture so you know what I am talking about (different brand but you get the idea). Anyway, before we took it in for the second time I had thoroughly cleaned the little cupboard underneath and removed the shelves. So lo and behold we arrived home and removed the plastic wrapper to discover another set of shelves inside!? And I realised that it’s filthy, and smelly, and rusted inside; and it clearly isn’t the unit we took in originally. I promptly called the customer care centre and told them that it is unacceptable that they give me back someone else’s smelly old unit. The guy on the line agreed with me, but then asked me what he should do about it!? So I informed him that I would expect that if they can’t replace MY unit they should give me a new one as its still under warranty. He agreed with this and told me that he would get the customer service manager or whomever to call me back from the branch concerned. And surprisingly I did actually get a callback. But by then I was completely fed up with the whole thing and passed the phone to Stu. After a lot of apologies and passing of the buck (“it’s the manufacturers problem”) and excuses (“the manager isn’t in on Fridays”) and madness (“please bring the unit back in”) Stu lost it completely. I won’t bore you with the details but the air was blue and the cats were all hiding under the bed by the end. So please don’t buy anything from Sharaf DG if you can help it, the only thing they are good at is passing the buck and avoiding responsibility.

Der Keller

[Der Keller]

On a calmer note we commemorated a small milestone this weekend. It is now officially a year since Stu left Johannesburg to start our adventure in Dubai. WOW! Honestly in some ways it has felt like 5 minutes, but in others it feels like we have been here for decades. So to mark the occasion we had dinner with some friends who had also left South Africa at the same time, and we went to a German restaurant at Jumeirah Beach Hotel called Der Keller (still taking advantage of the Visa dining special mentioned previously, 30% off rocks!!). As you would imagine the menu was pretty much wall-to-wall pork in some guise, with one chicken and one vegetarian dish in evidence. The boys had draught beer whilst we girls had a very nice Bordeaux, bottled especially for the hotel chain, from Sichel wines.

main course

[my main course]

I had pork medallions served with bacon sauce, broccoli and rosti, which was nice enough although it could have used a little more sauce. I broke down and had dessert, a tasty, but rather soggy, apple strudel served with cinnamon ice-cream and a vanilla shooter. The boys had Eisbein which looked delicious even if it wasn’t quite crispy enough for Stu’s taste. Despite being on the first floor with a view of palm trees the restaurant still managed to feel like a German cellar, very quaint actually.


[my dessert]


[Sugar Daddys’s cupcakes]

Stu had to go to a meeting Saturday so a friend and I visited the Village Mall in Jumeirah Beach Road and had lunch. Its a lovely little mall, reminiscent for me of the Village Walk in Sandown. Afterwards we bought some cupcakes from Sugar Daddys and went home for tea! Yummy.

Masdar Mosque

[artist’s impression of the eco-friendly Mosque at Masdar; Khaleej Times]

p.s. I was very pleased to read in the Khaleej Times last week about an eco-friendly Mosque they have blue-printed for Masdar City in Abu Dhabi (promoted as the world’s first zero-carbon zero-waste city). Good news! The story is here.

p.p.s. My new visa is ready 🙂

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