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Sunday, November 29, 2009

In Transit

Again, I apologize with the lack of posts here recently, but I am in the midst of moving to a new apartment. The new place is in a recently completed phase of the same complex I lived in before. I was offered a brand new, larger apartment and I accepted having long forgot the trials and tribulations of relocating in this part of the world.

The physical moving of all my worldly items went smoothly enough. The movers showed up on time and were efficient, careful and polite. In a few hours all my goods were settled into my new place just 300 meters from the old. All that was left for me to do was unpack the boxes and sort things out.

The REAL struggles I knew that were ahead of me would be the shifting of the electricity, TV cable and internet accounts to my new address. I was not wrong! I now have electricity and cable, but after 2 weeks I still do not have the internet due to a screw up by the government owned monopoly that administers online services.

I wanted my web services shifted on the 14th and had to spend 3 hours of my life that I will never get back to go downtown and let the internet monopoly know this requirement. I could not do it online or by phone. As an aside, transferring the cable TV took TWO trips to their downtown offices. I also owe the electricity people a second visit.

So a few days ago I get a knock on the door and there were two guys standing there with electronics boxes under there arms. I was ecstatic that I was finally getting back in contact with the outside world as I had already gone through my DVD movie collection twice and terminal boredom was settling in.

Those two guys were there a total of 10 minutes and after confirming I had a proper picture on the TV and the remote control worked, they were gone. I noticed that my internet modem had more lights lit on it than before and assumed the installers got that going too. I got the PC fired-up and ......nothing. I tried all sorts of things to get that little green "internet" LED to light on the modem, but to no avail.

I gave it a day thinking that the authorization may take some time, but the modem was still dead. I finally broke down and called the customer help phone center. The unusually helpful guy had me run some diagnostics, but in the end we were unsuccessful and he agreed that a technician visit was inevitable. Something was badly wrong. I was sure the installers had forgotten something in their whirlwind visit.

What the phone center guy said next was a great example of the state of customer service in the UAE. I asked when I can expect to get the problem resolved as I had been webless for 2 weeks, he said "someone will call you", I asked "when?", he said "soon". Kind of what I expected, but here is the good part, he followed that up with "if it is not our fault, you will be charged 100 Dirhams ($37USD)" for the service call. I then asked him if the problem turns out to be on his company's end, will I receive the same 100 Dirhams from them for MY inconvenience caused by their slacker installers? There was a long silence and finally he said "That is not our policy."

So there you have it! I thought my logic was perfect....tit for tat, but that is not the way government utility monopolies operate here or anywhere for that matter, you gotta go along to get along. That was two days ago and I have yet to get the phone call that someone will be coming over to take care of the problem.

By the way, in case you are wondering how I am posting without internet service, I am pirating some anonymous stray WIFI signal from some other resident in my apartment complex. Many thanks to those who choose to have there networks unsecured, they are providing an invaluable service to folks like me!


Neil Roberts said...

When I had problems after our move (and after several complaints registered with Etisalat) I registered a complaint the TRA ( ). After a day or so, I then seemed to get lots of attention from Etisalat - give it a whirl!

Ace said...

Neil, thanks for the link.
I suspected things would probably not go smoothly with the utilities and I was right.

I am somewhat patient right now with the Eid holidays and all but when things get back to normal, I will not be so forgiving.

The inequity of the 100AED charge if it was my fault and the lack of a similar offer from them if it was their cock-up symbolizes the state of customer service here.

Once I get things sorted, I am staying put for awhile, I am too old for the unnecessary drama of dealing with these entities!

Chuck said...

I can see how dealing with issues like that would grow wearisome after a while. Of course, it took them three tries to get my cable/internet working properly here, so it's not just a problem in the UAE...but I was able to schedule appointments each time.

Ace said...

Unfortunately, there are no such things as appointments here, not even the + or - 3 hours kind. They say that it will be taken care of but if you happen to be unavailable when they call, tough shit! You go back to the bottom of the list.

Like I said, once I get this settled I am staying put for awhile and not going to be disturbing the universe again any time soon!

Any word on Delta hiring, I would be all over that!

Dave said...

Your post brings back such horrible memories for me when I shifted some 12 months ago.

On a similar issue, the property I live in is managed by Union Properties. I have had the internet and cable on since first renting the place and it is working ok.

But recently two Etisalat gents (unannounced) knocked on my door, carrying under their arms some type of circuitry about the size of small box of beer. My wife was home with visitors so she let them in and now we have a large Etisalat box hanging from the side off the wall, near the floor in our spare room. Through the broken english conversation they said they would be back in about a week or so (inshalla). But 3 weeks later we are still waiting. I am just glad that the internet is still functioning, but WTF is this huge f'ing box? Checked with the neighbours and they also have a box of beer hanging off their wall as well....and no sign of our Etisalat friends.

Ace said...

If were you, I would speak in hushed tones around the house until you were certain as to what the box is for. You never know!

But maybe it is a new fiber optic modem. Etisalat is upgrading a lot of areas to this technology.

Hopefully,it is no more sinister than that.