26 January, 2009

As the one with the purchasing power, shouldnt my opinion count?

Is it just me or does anyone else feel they have absolutely no rights as consumers in the UAE? 

Not too long ago, I bought a car. When I gave it in for its first service, they asked me to go to a counter and pick up “taxi coupons”. I was pleasantly surprised. They were going above and beyond the call of duty and offering subsidized transportation. Every time you dropped your car there, you’d get 40 dirhams worth of taxi credit. Sweet. This was when the going was good. 

Then the world economies collapsed, US and the UK went into recession, and somewhere in all of this, I lost 20 dirhams. The company now only offers one coupon for dhs 20, as opposed to two, which was the established norm.  

In a purely financial sense, I can try understand their perspective that every penny counts. But does no one in the UAE know you cannot put a value to customer satisfaction? (Or dissatisfaction?) When companies the world over are/were implementing TQM and six-sigma, you go ahead and take apart a system that was functioning perfectly. Who does that? And why?

This isn’t about twenty dirhams. It’s about being offered something i never asked for. You offered. You knew what you were getting into. To differentiate yourself in the consumer's mind, and as a good-will gesture, you exceeded customer expectations and raised the bar for service delivery. 

Then, as soon as that courtesy became a hygiene factor, you pulled the plug. 

Must every strategy be developed for the short-term returns with no thought for consequences in the long-run?  If the coupon facility was not sustainable, should it have been put in place to begin with? And if it was there, did anyone consider how revoking it would impact the consumer’s attitude towards the brand? or was that not as important as the $ gain?

Absence of established and generally accepted consumer service levels in the UAE leave a bad taste in the mouth. The negativity gets compounded as there is nowhere to go and lodge a formal complaint (letters to the editor in gulf news are not the same thing). 

The only thing I can take home from this experience is that the automobile company needs dhs 20 more than I do. I cant help feel cheated of my rights though; I feel cheated of my dignity. When you give and take at will, you send a very clear signal of who the boss is; and clearly, in this case, it isnt the customer.  

Just for that then, all you car companies that make us buy service contracts that don't cover tires and battery replacements, be very, very afraid.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

The attitude most stores show us is one of "Be grateful to us for bringing you things you want, we can charge what we want".

I can never understand the virulently "no-return" policies followed by electronics stores........

Naseem said...

well said...

Kyle said...

Hemlock:

Just about everybody (and that includes you, I, and we) is slipping & sliding into austerity measures. So, why does your dealer's action(s) surprise you?

I mean these are tough times, kiddo. And even though this region amplifies its denial, it's just the contrary out there where your experience confirms that fact. I'm sure there are many that we don't know about, no?

redstar said...

Taxi coupons? Which dealer?! I've never seen anything like that before...

rosh said...

Agree with Kyle - sign of the times. Everybody's cutting back on costs and freebies are the first to go. Here in NYC, am extended a loaner (car) if/when I take the car in for service. Now, I've got to book a loaner in advance, since there aren't that many "available" i.e. fewer loaners from the dealership.

Redstar, I know Infiniti owners are extended taxi coupons by Arabian Automobiles.

Anonymous said...

the purpose of a business is to maximize profits. when there is little or no competition, why should they worry about your satisfaction? I know it sucks but its the truth

regarding the electronics stores i believe their mentality is if you dont buy it some1 else will!

i*maginate said...

Re: post question - are you trying to debate 'levels' of customer service?

rosh said...

Jee.."The-punching-bag" that asinine comment didn't make it through. If you haven't got anything constructive, please, stay away.

hemlock said...

anon: my beef is with banks; i am so bitter about banks here that i cannot say a single polite thing, so i shall refrain altogether. =)

naseem: was that for me or the anonymous comment? :)

kyle: i dunno. i have a very strong feeling a lot of companies are using this "downturn" as a happy hour to lay people-off. just for my satisfaction, i'd like to know exactly how much money the company is saving by skimming 20 dhs per customer. anything less than half a million dollars would just be bad decision-making. and i cannot believe theyve been spending a million dollars annually on customers' taxi fares. *shrugs*

rosh: now you know what brand my go-kart is =)

anon 22:20: umm. have you heard of brand equity? or positive association towards companies and brands? marketing is a science that says customers are suckers when kept happy. when companies dont keep us happy, we wake up to the fact that we are being screwed. the automobile or banking industries are hardly monopolies, they STILL suck.

i*: no. im questioning the 'existence'(or the lack thereof) of customer service levels.

fr7ty said...

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يوتيوب فيديو فرحتي

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منتديات نسائيه

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Arezou said...

I have been so annoyed with the sheer lack of customer service that I started a blog about it... check it out: www.customerserviceuae.blogspot.com
Please feel free to leave your comments.

Anonymous said...

Due to lack of competition.They just don't care!!!
Many electronics have a life time of exactly one year not more once the warranty is expired they stop functioning.eg. I purchased a SUPRA plasma TV from the COOP, after exactly 12 month the whole screen was burnt, all of a sudden, I had to purchase a SONY LCD.Another eg. I purchased an HP laptop from CARFOUR, after one year exactly the whole mother board just failed, I wrote them a complaint, but I couldn't do anything else I had to buy a TOSHIBA, from somewhere else. Now I am crossing my fingers.
Finnaly I reached to a conclusion that I will start buying such things from abroad that are quality guaranteed & cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so they're not spending a million dollars annually on customer taxi fares. Maybe not even half a million dollars. Let's say they're spending 200,000 dollars for the sake of argument.

$200,000 = AED 734,683

they cut this by half...

AED 367,341

Let's say they have 25 executives that earn 14,700 per month.

Cutting the taxi fare in half will just save these 25 executives job for the next year. Hypothetically speaking ofcourse.

But yeah, there are many ways to look at it.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

I cant help feel cheated of my rights though; I feel cheated of my dignity.

Your "right?" So because a company offers something at some point it becomes a right? God I hope you never walk into my place of business.

When companies the world over are/were implementing TQM and six-sigma, you go ahead and take apart a system that was functioning perfectly.

Had they been functioning perfectly, they wouldnt have been cancelled. The truth is that car is probably only sold by ONE company here, 2 if you're lucky. So if you dont want to buy from them, you're shit out of luck.

That is UAE consumerism.

And your dignity is worth 20 dirhams? Slow day at work and you needed to bitch?

I must also add that had you bought a decent car, from a decent dealer, you'd be getting much more than coupons for taxi fare.

hemlock said...
anon: my beef is with banks; i am so bitter about banks here that i cannot say a single polite thing, so i shall refrain altogether. =)

I'm sure you can put your feelings into words without being a tool, I, as a banker, am interested how everything is a bank's fault. (I know Im usually really sarcastic, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on the issue, please)

hemlock said...

anon 13:19: my washing machine fell apart exactly ONE day after the warranty expired. ONE DAY. coincidence? *shrugs*
annnyways, next time you want a laptop, go for an (IBM) lenovo T61. i swear by them - them is indestructible =)

ABIT: Slow day at work and you needed to bitch?
dunno man, i aint the one dissecting the post or the comments =D

as for humouring you, i'm a banker myself and i know enough to know when the wrong person has been placed in the wrong job. when you have to tell people how they need to do their job, and follow up for months to ensure those instructions are carried out, you can be sure something is amiss.
you want specifics?

Your "right?" So because a company offers something at some point it becomes a right? God I hope you never walk into my place of business.

read what i wrote:
as a good-will gesture, you exceeded customer expectations and raised the bar for service delivery. Then, as soon as that courtesy became a hygiene factor, you pulled the plug. a hygiene factor is a service that does not motivate, but absence of which causes dissatisfaction. it's something people expect and do not consider a perk.

if i may add, people demand to be treated with courtesy and a certain level of respect (a hygiene factor). if you cannot offer that at your place of work, it's no skin off my nose. the UAE is over-banked anyways =)

anon 13:36: touche.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

I was actually asking for specifics. everything you described, especially the months of followup, is common place in the UAE is most sectors, probably more so in the Govt sector than in banks.

So I'd like to know what exactly is the banks faults.

Ah, You got me there. It wasnt really a slow work day today as much as it was a I had to read what this dude said because I either really agree with him or really disagree. Your specifics will help tell.

And you will agree (I think) that there is a huge difference between a banker, and a person who works at a bank. You can be very good at what you do in a bank and not be a banker, and I have met true bankers who I swear pissed off every client they laid their eyes on. But were true bankers.

So again, I would like specifics as to your thought process on this matter. What is it that banks, apart from other businesses, are doing, or are not, that makes things (and what things?) their fault?

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

if i may add, people demand to be treated with courtesy and a certain level of respect

You speak for all people now? Im not saying you dont have a point, but every post of yours here, including the topic one, is full of rights that arent rights, perfection that were never perfect, and blatant generalizations. (like the one highlighted)

I demand, or most might demand... but PEOPLE DEMAND. No, I didnt. And Im sure I can find 10 others who didnt. I might have to pay them, or they might not be that smart, but my point is this whole post are YOUR thoughts and opinions projected as truth.

Anonymous said...

I've seen cocky people.. arrogant people.. but someone to is soooooooo full of themselves like this abit guy.. I don't believe i've had the honor.

Dude, seriously.. no one who is actually good at what they do, keeps saying that they are. give it a rest. you're just a paper pusher.

rosh said...

lol hemlock, my younger brother drives the brand. Whilst home this Christmas, I drove his car, must say, sleek & sporty go-kart, indeed! :)

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

Anonymous said...
I've seen cocky people.. arrogant people.. but someone to is soooooooo full of themselves like this abit guy.. I don't believe i've had the honor.

Dude, seriously.. no one who is actually good at what they do, keeps saying that they are. give it a rest. you're just a paper pusher.

Obviously you cant read and/or comprehend what you read. I never said I was good. I said there is a difference, and Ive met all kinds.

That aside, I am VERY good at what I do. Very. Thats not being cocky, thats being truthful. and if by paper pusher you really mean at a very very good place career wise right now, yes, I am. unlike (probably) you.

And just to counter the anyone who is good doesnt claim they are good. Our bank's COO knows he's good and makes sure EVERYONE knows it on an hourly basis. Sure, it's annoying, but with that level of experience, I can afford to listen to his ego, he's earned it. So you are wrong, MANY MANY good people act like they know what they're doing, and they have every right to.

Rose in Dubai said...

ABIT you are sooo full of bollocks! You clearly have no concept of customer service and are arrogant enough to think it doesn't matter. You and your like are exactly what is wrong with the economy today.

I guess you know that the collective name for a group of bankers is a wunch.

Dubai Guy said...

I only have one word to describe car dealerships in the UAE: crooks.

hemlock said...

ABIT, i find you neither obnoxious nor offensive nor arrogant, and mostly enjoy sparring with you.

that said, id written a whole comment about banks and my interaction with them earlier this afternoon, and accidentally deleted it instead of posting it. *shrugs* i find i dont have the spirit to retype all that =) maybe another time.

p.s. im not a dude, im better than that ;)

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

Dubai Guy said...
I only have one word to describe car dealerships in the UAE: crooks.

Correct. But the worst part is that the government allows the upto 60% (in my experience) markup on cars. If I owned a business and it was totally legal to be crooks, I would. I dont blame the dealers, I blame the lack of control and how monopolies are allowed to thrive in that market.

Rose in Dubai said...
ABIT you are sooo full of bollocks! You clearly have no concept of customer service and are arrogant enough to think it doesn't matter. You and your like are exactly what is wrong with the economy today.

Thats funny how Im required to have AT LEAST a 70% favorable rating when it comes to customer service and my branch is at... over 90%. Have I dealt with you? have you come to me and I didnt get your needs done?

No, You are making an assumption about my work based on no experience in my work.

hemlock, I understand. I'd not write it again myself. I'd be cursing at the screen. It's ok. But at some point I would like to hear your thoughts on the subject. As this is my career, and I intend to be a Banker for a very very long time, vocal people, especially about bad treatment, are the only real means of true feedback.

Kyle said...

Hemlock:

I second that, as well. Why don't you make another effort and re-write that comment you accidentally deleted. Besides, I for one would be interested to read your take on banks.

ColOman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ColOman said...

In the 4 years I lived in Dubai, I bought a car from Abu Dhabi, cause the Nissan dealer in Dubai was rude and very expensive.

The service in the Nissan dealer in Dubai was $hit, like having to make an appointment a week or 2 in advance, all the traffic I had to go through before waiting in line to drop the car , it was 2-3 hour affair and then just to kick you while you are down, they charge you a ridiculous amount and you are carless for 2-3 days.

So what I did, since I had a Nissan GCC warranty was take my car for service in Oman when I went to visit my family. I would take my car for service, no appointment needed, pick up the car in the evening, pay literary 50% of Dubai bill, and actually not waste more than 25 min dropping the car, including traffic.

Teacher4U said...

now these are the reasons I cant stand auto vehicles anymore, in the U.S. its normal to not get any coupons or a rent a car if our vehicle is in the shop. I say those 20 dirhams are a deal at this time of economic period.

rosh said...

Teacher - not entirely true. Most premium brand dealerships extend loaner cars or courtesy rides. They always have, as far as I can recall.

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