Dubai Consumer Mirror

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Speak Up

One of the first steps of finding a solution to a problem is to identify what/where the problem is. Most of the problems we suffer with the service industry here in the UAE is the lack of any form of communication between the consumer and the business owner.

This is what this post is dedicated for; to get everyone to share thoughts, stories and experiences on the service industry in Dubai and the UAE.

The aim is for business owners and decision makers to take note of all the violations and discrepancies that go by unnoticed on daily basis. Issues if not addressed, will ultimately damage the business' reputation, tarnish its image and in the long run, will effect its bottom line.

I request everyone to share their stories, thoughts and suggestions. Help our business learn from their mistakes. Lets play an active role in upgrading service levels in the UAE.

For that, I do urge everybody to:

  • Be courteous:
    This will NOT be a venue for bashing people, businesses or organizations. Any defamatory comments will be moderated and removed. No body is perfect and everyone is entitled to make mistakes. It is our responsibility to help amend others' mistakes by highlighting them.
  • Be clear and concise:
    Mention the exact problem, why was it a problem for you and what damage did it cause (if any).
  • Be reasonable:
    Report issues that were caused by lack of competence, training or product quality. While some problems could be unavoidable, most are.
  • Be precise:
    Mention the organization's name, time and date of the situation. Naturally, the sooner the organisation is aware of any problem, the soon they could be solved.

Thank you ..


  • I'll kick off with some shameless name-dropping. The last time I was in Dubai I went with a friend to Buddha Bar on a weeknight, on October 2nd to be exact.

    We got good seats on the bar. Our food took an hour to reach us and the drinks orders were all wrong. Drank them anyway, but still!

    The waiters were clueless and totally lost, like they were picked off the street and thrown into uniforms without any training.

    By Blogger Zaydoun, at January 5, 2006 at 10:18 PM  

  • Yesterday (around 10pm) on my way beck from Emirates Mall, i ended up behind a truck on the far right lane as i exited the Mall's parking.

    Suddenly, my car was showered with waves of sand and small pieces of stones and pebbles that was coming right off the load of the truck i am behind.

    I instantly slowed down and swerved to the right shoulder to avoid shattering my windshield..

    After securing enough distance, I caught up with the truck and waved the driver to slow down to a full stop on the side of road.

    I told the driver that his load is being scattered all over Sheik Zayed Road and that this is very dangerous for divers; especially people on motorbikes or convertible vehicles.

    He said he was really sorry but he can't do anything about it and he looked very sincere. I told him in this case I need to inform his company... I took the number on the side of the truck and saved it on my mobile. I drove off feeling very bad for the driver who was in tears pleading me not to call his company..

    I didn't make the call, but i hope someone in Jassim Gharib Transportation would double check their truck loads to make sure they are secure while transportation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 5, 2006 at 10:51 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger moryarti, at January 6, 2006 at 12:06 AM  

  • We had a disastrous time in Carrefour at MOE the other night, looking for an electric heater.

    After hunting down a reluctant salesperson to help us, he then disappeared for 15 mins to check the stock availability. Arrived back to say, no - this item no longer in stock.

    So we try the next model. Another 10 mins. Yes - in stock. Pay at the counter, then trek to the back of the store to the stock area to pick up the item. Another 10 min wait.

    Then, "Sorry Madam, this item also is no longer in stock."

    Back out to the front of the store where it takes another 15 mins to get the refund.

    Time wasted: 3 hours including travel time from DIC and return.

    On a positive note: the next day we drove to Geant at Ibn Battuta to look for the heater.

    First salesperson we encountered knew exactly what we were looking for: lead us to the item; told us how to operate it; offered to get us a trolley to carry it. Great service. AND the boxed stock was available off the salesfloor - no salespeople having to hunt for it out the back! Took it to the front cashier and paid for it. Easy.

    Total time: 45mins to drive to and from the DIC - and pick up sushi for lunch at the same time!

    Hats off to Geant - growlies to Carrefour.

    By Blogger nzm, at January 6, 2006 at 1:27 PM  

  • The FRESH sign at Season's café in Ibn Battuta mall should be removed. Today afternoon, I needed to have a fresh lemon juice cause i felt as if i was catching the flu bug...

    The cafe looked like it serves everything fresh and made-to-order. So, I asked for a lemon juice and the guy behind the counter handed me one of the pre-filled ones. Knowing that freshly squeezed juices retain more vitamins than stored ones, i asked if i can get one prepared now. He told OK and asked his manager. He came back saying that he can't do that cause all the "fresh" juices cups are prepared and packaged from the factory. I was like, "so what fresh juices can do you have" - "nothing - we don't prepare juices here"

    It could be not that of a big deal, but i didn't feel that it was very honest to show customers that everything at that place fresh while its not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 6, 2006 at 9:52 PM  

  • French Bakery or La Marquise has a funny service. Last time i was there I ordered a Cesar Salad that came literally berried in Parmesan cheese (as if the cap of the can popped open while sprinkling the cheese over the salad).

    naturally, the salad was not edible and it stayed in front of me untouched on the table. I couldn't say much because i was entertaining business guests and i didn't want to make a scene or look picky in front of my guests. The waitress then came and asked why didn't i finish my salad. i told her why .. she shrugged and took it away. when the bill came I ended up paying for it as well.

    i thought she would either write it off, offer to replace it with something else or atleast say sorry.

    That happened a while back (6 months), and whenever my friends want to go there again, i vote against it and we go somewhere else.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 10, 2006 at 6:53 PM  

  • I recently bought a software for my pocket pc (PPC) in a shop in Deira City Centre. It needs to be activated by keying the serial number provided and this can only be done if my ppc is connected to the internet.

    So at home, I connected my PPC via active sync to my laptop which is connected to the internet. Following the instruction in the software's quick start guide, I browsed some sites, e.g., to check if my ppc is indeed connected. Checking that I can browse in my ppc, I then proceeded to register the software. It unfortunately failed!

    So I tried calling the support desk for the software but no one answered. I found out that they only have support from Saturday to Wednesday on normal working hours, and unfortunately, I bought the software on a Wednesday evening! Ok, I have bought an expensive software that I have paid in full but can't use. But no problem, since anyway, the software is not that important... I can wait. So I e-mailed support to report my problem with the details required, as intructed in the quick start guide.

    The next day, to my surprise, I received a response... someone is doing an overtime! Well good for me... that's what I thought at first anyway. As I read the response, I was disappointed as the support person told me that before registering the software, I should make sure that my PPC is connected to the internet and referred me to the Quick Start Guide. Sheesh!

    I tried my luck and called the support number, and good thing is that someone answered. I told the support staff that I already made sure that my ppc is connected to the internet via active sync, as instructed in the Quick Start Guide but I still could not register the software. He advised me to try connecting to the internet via GPRS or wifi-LAN.

    Since I thought connecting to wifi would be easier (less set-up) to do, as I only need to go to one of the cafes/coffee shop in one of malls here in Dubai in order to connect, I decided to connect to the internet via wifi.

    So I went to Deira City Centre, as anyway, I need to meet someone there. Having tried connecting to the internet via wifi before, I know that one way to connect is to input an etisalat prepaid card number. Btw, the wifi-LANs in the malls around the city today are being monopolised by i-ZONE, which is being run by ecompany of Etisalat! So I bought an etisalat prepaid card in carrefour.

    I went to Costa, ordered a mochaccino, and switched on my wireless lan on. I then proceeded to my preferred method of logging in, which is by inputting the etisalat prepaid card number and my mobile phone number. After a few sec, an error message appeared stating that it could not process the request at the moment, and that I may try again later. After several laters, and my coffee cup almost half-empty, I still could not connect to the internet. So I thought I'll try connecting to i-ZONE by using an i-ZONE prepaid card. I asked the waiter if they have i-ZONE prepaid cards. The know-it-all smart ass told me that they have internet connection and that perhaps I could not connect because I don't have a chip and blah blah blah blah. All I was asking is if they have i-ZONE prepaid cards and he started to mumble non sense! Anyway, I went to the counter and asked the person behind it if they have i-ZONE prepaid card. All I got was shake of the head indicating no. Is it too difficult to utter the words, "No sir, perhaps you can inquire about it from information"? Anyway, I went back to my table to finish my cup of coffee. And before I left, the smart ass waiter told me that I need to go to etisalat so that I can connect to the internet via wifi! What the hell!?!

    Anyway, I went to the shop where I bought the software and the shop attendant offered help in contacting and getting a resolution from the support desk of the developer. I understand that the shop is no longer responsible for any support issues with the software I bought, and I appreciate that he was being helpful. When I asked him where I can buy an i-ZONE prepaid card telling him that I am trying to connect to the internet via wifi as I thought in this way I would be able to register the software, he said I might be able to buy one at Starbucks, and then his colleague advised me further to ask from information.

    So I went to the information booth and asked the person there where I can buy the card. He directed me to carrefour. At carrefour, I asked a cashier for an i-ZONE prepaid card which I can use to connect to the internet. As I could not understand what he is saying, I paid the amount he punched in the cash register... 25 dirhams. When he gave me the card... to my dismay it was an al wasel prepaid card! Just freakin' great!!! Anyway, as I thought I would just wasting my energy complaining and explaining to the idiot that the card he gave me is not the one that I need, and as I could use the card anyway, I went away and went to starbucks.

    In starbucks, there is no i-ZONE prepaid cards for sale.

    I went to customer service. After 5 minutes of waiting for the attendant to finish her phone call, I asked where I can buy the seemingly elusive prepaid card. She told me that they have nothing to do with i-ZONE and that it is handled by etisalat. Hmmm...

    I went to another information booth. She directed me to telefonica. No i-ZONE prepaid cards there either.

    I went to another starbucks, no luck there either.

    I went to McGrudy's. They don't have i-ZONE prepaid card, and the guard there even asked me who told me that I might find i-ZONE prepaid cards in there. Apparently, it was not the first time someone asked them for a freaking i-ZONE prepaid card. I told him that no one actually told me that I may find an i-ZONE prepaid card in McGrudy's, but I just thought that a book store close to a coffee shop having i-ZONE might have!

    So I gave up. I left deira city centre really frustrated and decided to try my luck in Bur Juman.

    In Bur Juman, I was excited to find a wireless LAN! Yipee. This might be it, I happilly told myself. But to my dismay (yet again), the network is not connected to the internet, but only to a certain network where I can only browse a sort of directory of Bur Juman shops, which contains nothing really important and exciting.

    Anyway, having remembered seeing an i-ZONE sign in Al Mussalla mall, which is bout 3 blocks away from Bur Juman, I went there and finally found a shop selling i-ZONE prepaid cards worth 70 dirhams (good only within 24 hours after the first use, and only for 7 or so hours) and 120 dirhams (good withing 60 days after the first use, and for 12 hours). I bought the 120 dirhams as I don't think I could use up 7 hours within 24 hours.

    Finally I was able to connect to the internet with my ppc and was able to register the software I bought! Well, that is after learning that staffs at coffee shops providing i-ZONE have no idea about i-ZONE and that i-ZONE prepaid cards are very rare indeed!

    By Blogger (((dXb))), at January 16, 2006 at 10:02 AM  

  • :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 3, 2006 at 7:14 PM  

  • First, hats off for your efforts on this subject. Many people get pissed off for one thing or another and many of the problems are either language barriers, miscommunication or no communication at all.

    I don't have a specific complaint to air here, because I take up my complaints with the offending company, but I also fill out comment cards, leave tips, and thank people for a pleasant experience.

    If people have a miserable time in a restaurant or a problem with service with a company, then it is their responsibility to state the problem. I don't mean act like the worst and nastiest Jumeriah Jane, and throw an embarassingly public fit. I mean, sit down and take the time to put together a constructive letter or email. If you want good service or a service to improve, it takes effort on your part. It also takes a bit of flexibility due to the fact that everyone here is from somewhere else.

    In addition, I have a recommendation. If having perfect service or assistance with your problem, then pick your battles. If you are going into one of the hottest venues in town and expecting to be treated as if you were in the Burj, then you need to rethink where you are going and when you are going. It is the same for going to the hypermarket, any hypermarket, at night. This is a PM society and everyone comes out in droves in the evenings. If you don't work, go during the day when shops open; if you work be there first thing on Thrusday morning. You will have a much calmer experience, and you will also be dealing with a refreshed, less stressed service person. If that isn't possible, then you have to accept the fact that you are going to be in an establisnment at their busiest time, so be patient and deal. If you can't deal, make other arrangements.

    It takes a little forthought and a little flexibility if you are a stickler about service. My last recommendation is try to avoid all situations that would normally cause you stress on a Friday. Anyone and everyone is out in full force and they want exactly the same thing you be treated like they are the only one there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 4, 2006 at 6:51 PM  

  • very true and well said nomad .. i mentioned this before

    By Blogger moryarti, at February 6, 2006 at 2:50 AM  

  • whoa (((dxb))), deja vu! I had almost the identical experience in August 2005, the same month I arrived in Dubai. I needed to use the internet and figured wireless at the City Center was the way to go. After asking around absolutely everywhere at City Centre, I was told to go to Etisalat in Bur Dubai to get an I-zone card. Of course they don't sell them either.

    This was my first experience of how things really (don't) work in Dubai!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 20, 2006 at 4:04 PM  

  • sighs. my story. i can't stand being at Areej - in ANY part of the UAE. they're all the same. annoying saleswomen hounding you and forcing you to buy stuff when you JUST DONT want to. worst, you know that they are forcing the most expensive perfumes on u and end up making u feel like a cheap-ass if u say politely that u don't want those perfumes.

    i was at areej in sharjah city centre yesterday and wanted a small mont blanc perfume for my bag and the woman kept forcing the larger bottle. i told her politely, "no...the small one please" and she insisted on picking the larger bottle and saying, "will that be it" and i repeated...SMALL BOTTLE PLEASE. and she wouldn't budge. i snatched the small bottle off the shelf and walked to the cashier.

    at the cashier, another fake smiles greets me and asks me if i have filled out their database. i say a quick yes and wait for them to bill me and let me leave. well, not so soon. they took my number...searched the database, felt content that i was trapped there...and THEN proceeded to bill me. grrrrrr.

    why can't they just leave me bloody alone? i dont need their interferance when i check the perfumes or whatever. and not one, but if the other saleswoman is idle, she starts walking with me like my shadow.

    this is not good customer service, this is the worst form of pushy saleswoman behaviour.

    By Blogger flamin, at April 1, 2006 at 9:30 PM  

  • This is some thing related to Credit Card cheating (Offer) Four months back I received a mail from Rak Bank with leaflet of Guaranteed Free stay in hotels if you spend Dhs 10,000 in two months. I used my card, and finally today I received the letter and the discount vouchers for the stay, but it says I have to pay $ 10 per day for the hotel stay, and that too I have to make the payment here in Dubai, only after that I can go to the hotel and have my so called Guaranteed free stay. This is cheating, real cheating. When the bank sends you the leaflet for the free stay and all we don’t expect these types of things from them

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 15, 2006 at 1:50 PM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 26, 2006 at 2:02 AM  

  • A word of caution for all those aspiring vacationers. This is regarding PVOC (PIVA Vacation Owner's Club), based in Dubai. I bought a timeshare property from PIVA in 1996. The property never got off the ground and is not completed to this date.

    After much wrangling, PIVA offered to 'upgrade' my status to a floating week ownership in PVOC in Oct 2005. I was supposed to enjoy a week in any one of their 44 resorts worldwide.

    To this date I have paid them a total of AED 16,000 in purchase price and annual fees. To keep this initial investment valid I have to continue paying them AED 900 each year.

    I have not been successful as yet in getting a week allotted from one of the 44 resorts. They do not even bother to respond.

    My advise to all... Stay away from timeshare ownership, especially if it's an unfinished property or even worse, 'floating weeks'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 23, 2007 at 7:46 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 5, 2007 at 5:34 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 22, 2007 at 12:13 PM  

  • I joined with the anonymous writer about PIVA. I also fell in the same trap. He lost only AED 16000. But to upgrade to Wind Tower Resort in Dubai., they asked me to pay AEd. 25000 apart from my earlier deposit of AED. 13000. I paid 25000 expecting that I can sell the share and get my money. No chance. So, please stay away from these people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 17, 2007 at 9:24 AM  

  • RAKBANK cards are touted as being free for life. BEWARE! They don't have an annual fee, but they will rip you off in other ways. I paid a day late, and the slapped on a 125 dhs late payment fee, some mysterious 'credit shield' charge and the entire month's interest. When I canceled my card in protest, they charged me another 125 dhs without explanation. And no one knows whatever happened to the few hundred dirhams due as part of 'cashback'. Moral of the story - stay away from credit cards, and if you can't, pay them on time and read the fine print. Nothing is free.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 17, 2008 at 3:34 PM  

  • I joined with the anonymous writer about PIVA. I also fell in the same trap. I lost AED 50,000 to upgrade to Wind Tower Resort in Dubai., they asked me to pay AEd. 50,000 expecting that I can sell the share and get my money or make accomodation for one week to 25 years, but there is no chance and I think that I need to make a suit against these people

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 31, 2008 at 1:17 AM  

  • PIVA has been a big rip off for me.I had invested around 30,000 AED and upgraded with their last offer.I knew something was not right when Mr.Sugunan the customer service manager didnt get back from his annual leave.He was very friendly and genuine and told me that he was going to be relieved of his duties soon.Recently a colleague who also had invested in timeshares at PIVA told me about the scam and now we are wondering who is going to give us back our hard earned money.Th old tel of PIVA at Dune building goes to a fax tone when called.Does anyone have a clue about who to contact.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 2, 2008 at 3:17 PM  

  • All PIVA / PVOC members who have suffered courtesy this fraud to please drop in an email to me at : I am getting a group together of those who have been cheated to formalise a legal course of action. Thanks... Ricky, Dubai, UAE.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 30, 2008 at 6:56 PM  

  • CUSTOMER IS KING! King? Who?
    I was a proud owner of Kia sportage when I bought it on 12 December 2006! And today I am repenting! Can poor service make you hate your car? YES IT CAN!! KIA is focusing on selling and not on service! Juma Al Majid should improve after sales service, and then focus on selling! I am one more unsatisfied customer of Kia, thanks to you’re the after sales service. My vehicle is there with the KIA service centre in Al Aweer, Dubai since 7.30 am on 5th October 2008 for routine 50000 kilometers service. I was promised the delivery of the car within 24 hours. I tried to call up your service centre in the evening and there was 1. No duty manager available (on vacation) 2. No supervisor available (left early) 3. My service Advisor Mr. Ahmad Hawajreh was not reachable on phone, ( I was trying to contact him from 4.30 pm to 6.00 pm on 5 October 2008). I was told by the receptionist to keep on dialing the phone until I get him on line (am I participating in a raffle??) I left my telephone number and vehicle number with the telephone operator and told her to pass on the message to Mr. Ahmed and tell him to call me back when he gets time. There was no reply. I have to cancel my appointment in Abu Dhabi on 6th October all because I am not having my vehicle. There were no calls from the service center till 2.30 pm on 6th October 2008. I called up service advisor Mr. Ahmed and I got him on line!!! (felt like I have won a lottery). After a brief wait he confirmed that my vehicle is getting ready and it will be ready by 6 pm. I said big thanks, took a taxi and went to the service centre. But I saw my poor silly Sportage lying abandoned and unattended. I asked for Mr. Ahmed at the reception and came to know that he already left! So I met another service advisor and asked about my vehicle. He told me that it is not ready and it may get ready by 7th October. THREE DAYS FOR A NORMAL 50000kms service? He said timer belt has to be changed for 50K service! I asked him how many days you require for changing a timer belt? "You are not the only customer here, dear" - was the reply! Thanks Mr. Kia Service, I have to find a place where only my car gets serviced. Nice idea! Good bye Mr. KIA SERVICE!!! I started hating my Kia Sportage. I did a mistake by buying it. I bought a car but am suffering to get the service done! I want to end the service contract too at 50000 kms ( taken upto 60000 kms- another mistake!) I dont want to suffer more with service. BECAUSE TIME IS PRECIOUS!!! Please understand the inconvenience your guys are causing to many unsatisfied customers in the UAE. I am sending a copy to all my friends so that they should not fall into more traps like this.
    I am still waiting for my silly Sportage. Will I get it serviced tomorrow? Only time could tell!
    Thank you.

    By Blogger Unknown, at October 6, 2008 at 8:51 PM  

  • talking about KIA. We bought a Kia sportage beginning of November 2008. One of the selling points was the buy back guarantee, as we were unsure how long we would stay. As it is we are moving jobs in August and went to the Kia branch to enquire how much we would get back on the buy back guarantee. Guess what "where is the paper you signed about it".. Pardon. Yes it seems that unless we signed a piece of paper at the sale time we are not entitled to this guarantee. Nobody of course told us about this at the time. I am currently slowly boiling under with rage.... does nobody care about false advertising in this country.

    By Blogger Geographynerd, at April 12, 2009 at 5:11 PM  

  • Is there a government body as such that gives a list of prices for beauty products? Is it possible for a salon to charge price X when an even bigger salon is X-40 dirhams cheaper? Got a refund of 20dirhams after having to endure a sob story as to how much overheads costs and how bigger salons are undercutting the little ones and so on?! Furthermore, after swinging from saying yes to a refund; to not and finally agreeing to only 20; of course that is one place I will never visit. Oh yes; the excess was blamed on 1. business 2. staff commission and 3. overheads

    And also, is there a system whereby aggressive hairdressers can be reported?

    Am I the only one here?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 5, 2009 at 10:47 PM  

  • Recently booked a fishing trip with Arabia Horizons. Cost was 3500aed and we booked a 36 ' yacht with all facilities including fish finder, fishing equipment for Deep Sea
    Arrived at the quay side only to find that there were no Arabia Horizon boats - they had subcontracted the whole event without telling me. It was not a yacht, very limited facilities including perhaps the worst toilet experience in Dubai and no fish finder. The day was fishing disaster and there were 12 disgruntled customers. Contact Arabia Horizons who promised to look into it and come back to me. Never did despite 3 emails
    Moral - if you book any event with this company do not pay up front or if you have to make sure it is a limited deposit

    By Anonymous RogerT, at November 25, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

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