13 April, 2006

Customer Service...

I love this place, and I love living here, and it really bothers me when I see negativity reflecting it.

I feel that as a whole, the community in the UAE is supposed to be directed towards customer service, it is THAT which it is actually lacking.

We have the best facilities and hotels but with the attitude of the customer we have encouraged (not all!) a similar attitude from the service provider.

It used to be known across Europe and perhaps the world, that for really terrible customer service one can rely on the French & the Spanish. Are we now competing with the west on this one?

My colleague has been in Dubai for under a year and I have seen him suffer with transactions every now & then. And I ask myself why does he suffer? Is it because he has such high expectations from the service providers? Well yes! And why's that? It's because we advertise how we want to be a global leader, a dynamic force in the region to be compared to only the most advanced nations... And yet we lag behind in the most simple, measurable and tangible way, by the service we provide.

Who's to blame? All! What are the solutions? Innumerable! But we need to acknowledge that we have a problem, and we need to want to solve it, else we will lead in other areas that may progress to notoriety rather than fame.

Here's his latest hurdle:


Dear J*******,

Please be informed that I have decided to cancel my planned purchase of the 2006 Toyota Prado from the Al Futtaim showroom in Festival City.

I expect to be refunded the AED500 that I paid as a deposit by the end of business today, 2006 April 15.

Here are the reasons for this cancelled order:

1. Unreasonably long processing time for the order.

My first visit to your showroom was April 1. It is April 13 and I still do not have the car. I have purchased several vehicles for my personal use in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East (4 of those vehicles were Toyotas) and I have not been subject to as much hassles and delays as I have experienced with Al Futtaim in Festival City.

2. Emirates Bank is extremely unprofessional.

First, they assigned me Ashraf who had a limited command of English. Second, I had to send the required documents at least 7 times by email and fax reflecting poor handling of very sensitive and confidential documents such as bank statements, salary certificates, passports, etc. My calls to Emirates Bank were unanswered and hardly returned. Further, an article in today’s paper about a computer glitch in Emirates Bank completely eroded my confidence in your partner’s professionalism.

3. Unreasonable pricing and restricted choice of insurance providers.

If I wanted your showroom to arrange insurance, I would pay 7% premium, vs. ~5% with other reputable insurance companies. This creates an unacceptable amount of hassle on my part as I’d need to drive all over Dubai to obtain no-claim letters, insurance policies, etc.

Let this be a reminder to Al Futtaim that I am the customer. You should make it easy and convenient for me. You should take and return my calls. You should select financing and insurance partners that make purchasing a Toyota a good deal and not a nightmare for me.

Please act on my refund ASAP. I expect the refund to be couriered to me. I may be willing to pick the refund up at the Al Futtaim showroom on Shiek Zayed Road but that is the farthest I would go as I reside near Jebel Ali.


Tim Newman said...

Good on him. I like it when the customer flexes his muscles like this.

If it's any consolation, the customer service in the UK is absolutely shocking. It is a different type of incompetence than what exists here, but no less frustrating.

adevents said...

If all people act the same way maybe we change something
For example I have little Problem with ABN AMRO Bank trying to solve it since October 2005 till today which is about 5 month now.
Every time I call they transfer me to some one different and in another department I have to tell my story maybe thousand time all I get is “ I will look in to this issue and call you back ASAP” they simply never call back never and I am still calling and waiting I have no time to waste and go to the bank but I did, also I got the same answer, and by they way I think ABN AMRO bank is international bank and European too

TwinTopaz said...

advents..ABN AMRO did solve my problem...but after 8 long months and only after i wrote to their head of consumer banking..:)

dubaiefied said...

I'm the one who faxed the letter above to Al Futtaim in Festival City.

The sales manager called me up. He was a nice, calm guy with traces of both Arabic and French in his accent.

To his and the dealership's credit, he did call within minutes of receiving the fax, offered to make things convenient for me from this point onwards (offering to deliver the car to whereever I am!), and even inviting me for coffee.

Unfortunately, it was too little too late.

If I simultaneously owned a car dealership, a bank, and an insurance company, I'd make sure to manage them in such a way that the combination of cars I sell and the financing and insurance terms I provide would make it a no-brainer for any customer to sign a deal with me.

In my case at Al Futtaim, they probably have one part of the formula right and it seems to me that it's more because of Toyota than because of Al Futtaim.

But if I wanted a Toyota in Dubai, Al Futtaim seems to be telling me that I'd have to deal with an incompetent bank and to have to pay for insurance that's 40% more expensive than world-known insurance brands.

I've passed the anger stage and am now back enjoying Dubai by once more making rounds of the different car showrooms.

What would be interesting from this point onwards is whether we, as residents of Dubai, have any real alternative.

Who here can honestly say that Al Tayer or Al Rostamani or Gargash or Al Naboodah is any much better?

Seabee said...

What amazes me about Dubai's lack of service is that it's not only from monopolies like Etisalat but also from companies with fierce competition.

I did a blog piece on it the other day - are they in collusion over it? "Let's agree that none of us will give a damn about the customers, then none of us gets an advantage over the others and we can all just carry on as we are".

John B. Chilton said...

Four words: "government granted exclusive dealership."

Without competition customers are easily held by the short and curlies.

N.B. - Many dealers have exclusive dealerships in several brands.

Success in business would appear to be about success in getting a monopoly, not in serving customers.

Is that something to be admired: to get a bigger share of the cake instead of working to make the cake bigger? Not in my eyes.

bandicoot said...

Good customer service is a tradition born out of fierce free market competition, a tangible code of business ethics, and a community of consumers who have rights and recourse; none of which can be found in any mesure in this blooming desert oasis. The stories about banks and dealerships reminded me of my previous bank (UNB). Tired of their atrocious service and world-class incompetence I finally closed my account there few years ago (a precosee which turned out to be so complicated I wished at one point I never started it). Well, three years later, they still send me monthly statements stating that my account balance at UNB is zero dirhems!

Grumpy Goat said...

Service industry incompetence can - very occasionally - work to the customer's advantage. I closed my Q-Tel internet account over three years ago and stopped paying monthly for it. Yet the account still works! It attracts plenty of offers for PhDs, body enhancement, Rolexes and 'H0rny H0usewives', but that's true of every internet account in the world.

The fact of customer service is, to paraphrase the nursery rhyme,

When it's good, it's very, very good.
But when it's bad it is horrid!

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