Today’s blog post will be dedicated to a focus on customer service in the UAE, highlighting how it affected the day. One of the things that is hard to miss here is how many service workers they have in every setting. For example, in the clients office, they have at least two drink people whose exclusive job is to come around offering water, tea or coffee (I contend the coffee may be the best I’ve ever had). Another example is that public restrooms have a minimum of one person assigned at all times to be cleaning it, sometimes there are multiple people even if it is small. Our pool, which is not high traffic, also has two lifeguards. Getting the picture?
With that said, I have had varying experiences with customer service, some good, some downright terrible. Today’s experiences begin with a visit to the hospital – yes sir, the hospital. While we were in Oman, Travis gashed his foot on the coral and didn’t want to seek medical attention. The crew on the boat put iodine on it and Travis covered it in bandages when he got home. He described it is a scratch to the pharmasist as he looked for a neosporin type product – let’s be clear, this was nowhere close to a scratch, it was clearly a gash. Well, today, while we were working, he says, he thinks its infected.
So, I plan to accompany him to the hospital to get it checked. We went downstairs to grab a cab and every one of them seems to already have been hired. We were 0 for our first 10 tries. Finally an empty cab pulls up next to us, he rolls down the window and asks us where we are going. We say, “the hospital” and he says “I can only take you if you want to go to the airport”. Complete BS; so we move on to the next one. We actually get in this cab and tell him we are headed to the hospital. His response: “that’s the other direction”, finally Travis says, “I just need to go to the hospital, I don’t care if it’s longer”. The cab driver responds by saying, “Sorry”. We were both very upset by this! However, we had been told the day before, by another cab driver that this should never happen as it is against the cab driver rules here. If it is reported, the drivers face an 800 dirham ($200) fine. I wrote both of their cab numbers down and reported them. No excuse not to drive someone to the hospital – ever.
The next experience is an add on to an earlier edition of the blog, dealing with the phone company here, as I am getting charged a crazy amount of data to go to normal news websites that barely use any data in the US. As a result, I had opened a ticket asking for help in understanding how the data has been used. Since logging the issue, I have heard from probably 15 different people, each uniquely incompetent in what they do. Every time they email or call, its the billing team telling me everything is right. I also respond every time and tell them that was not my question. “I want technical support and a usage report”. Well, the lucky soul from Du that called me tonight was in for some heat – and I delivered it. He dealt with me asking why I keep hearing from the wrong team and I haven’t heard from the technical team. He kept sidewalking the question, so I kept persisting … for 20 minutes. The beauty of it was that he couldn’t hang up on me. Finally I got him to agree to get technical support to call (and they finally delivered, by calling me today – now I’m sure it will be another month before I get the report).
As a result of all of the problems, and the worst customer service experience I have ever had, I logged a complaint with the Telecommunications Agency here. For those who know me, when it comes to service, I am virtually always very flexible and understanding. In this situation though, they have pushed me to the brink and I won’t stand for it.
Dubai wants to have 20 million tourists a year by 2020 and as a result they are pushing for better customer service and transparency. Because of this, you see signs everywhere encouraging you to report the types of issues I have been experiencing. My hope in logging these problems is that people won’t have to put up with the absymal service and lack of respect we have been given in certain circumstances. Today was a few bad experiences back to back and had a major impact on the day.
On the positive side, Travis’ experience at the hospital was hilarious. The hospital was in a mall and not just any mall. It was a themed mall where each corridor was a different country or culture, ie. Egypt, China, India, Persia, etc. It was ridiculous as we walked in. The office itself was normal and actually quite nice. But things got strange from there. We were pulled into a side room by a nurse (I think it was a nurse, although he had no ID badge on him) before seeing the doctor and he basically diagnosed it and told Travis he could self medicate it. Because he never actually saw a doctor, he didn’t even pay – this was not a normal situation, I’m guessing, even in the UAE. It seemed like Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can. For those that are wondering, Travis is just fine and it was more precautionary than anything else; he continues to monitor the situation.
The other highlight was going out. Joey was incredibly excited about heading to a speakeasy near our condo. When we arrived, it was anything but a speakeasy. There was club music playing, lights flashing, and a cover band coming on. The club music temporarily gave way to Grease music, which was also strange. Either way, the cover band basically gave us a private show as almost no one was there but us.
All in all, despite the frustrations and lack of customer service, it was still another great day here.