Conversations with Customer Service
Anyone who lives in the UAE can attest to the fact that customer service is usually far from exemplary. While I suspect customer service is a problem in many countries, conversations with customer service agents in this Arab nation often yield the same results as hitting yourself in the face with a shoe.
Since there is almost no competition in the telecommunications sector, virtually every UAE resident can claim to have had a mind numbing conversation with the Etisalat. After 4 days of trying to reach an agent, I finally had a conversation that went like this
“Hi, my name is Mohammed. How can I help you?”
“I’d like to switch my phone plan”
“Our systems are down. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Bewildered that this man believed that this man was under the impression he had somehow helped me, I reluctantly thanked him. 14 hours and 4 conversations later, their systems were running and I could finally explain my predicament to a customer service agent.
“We can’t do anything for you”
“Whom should I talk to?”
“You can complain in person at our office”
“Pretend that you are not an Etisalat employee for a moment. Will they honestly help me at your office?”
“So what should I do?”
“Complain in person”
Clearly he took the word ‘moment’ quite literally. That being said, Etisalat is not the only organization in the UAE with blatantly honest customer service agents. The RTA (responsible for public transport in Dubai) boasts equally truthful employees.
“My electronic fare card was overcharged”
“Let me see your card. Yes, I can confirm you were overcharged”
“Great so you can give me a refund”
“I can’t refund you. You can file a formal complaint and wait for a callback”
“Okay so I’m going to receive a callback?”
Despite multiple terrible experiences with major organizations, the strangest conversation I ever had with a customer service agent was at my own workplace. Once when walking through a hallway I felt a slap on my behind. The only person in the vicinity was the female customer service manager.
“Did you just do what I think you did?”
“I know you liked it”
“Shall I do it again?”
After a particularly tortuous conversation about upgrading my TV package, an Etisalat employee did once admit to me that there was really no point in them having a Call Centre at all, since you would inevitably have to go to the office to get anything done.
I do miss the weather, though (just don’t get me started on Salik).
They once told me to upgrade my package saying it would be cheaper. However after the documents were signed I found out they had lied and the package was actually more expensive!
Two words that will help improve customer service in your country. Regime Change. Replace the current ruling body with a form of representative government which is guided by and bound by a simple document of some sort. A Constitution, one might say – hypothetically, of course. Structure the government such that power exists in the hands of ‘elected’ officials and create branches of government which have power over the other branches, as over sight. Checks and balances, one might say. All this must be founded on the belief that there are certain, inalienable, individual rights. Freedom of speech must be protected at all costs. Once the basics of free society are in place the sense of accountability to each other will grow. This system can work but it is difficult. Probably would not come fully to fruition in your lifetime but you could get the ball rolling. Oh, and by the way, the citizens of your nation have to do it them selves. Other nations may encourage or assist in minor ways but the burden is on the mass of freedom seeking people. You are not alone, but nobody can do it for you.
Good luck. Keep us posted.
I should perhaps point out that only 20% of UAE residents are actually citizens and since the country is reasonably wealthy, all citizens are actually quite well looked after.
Even if UAE citizens were not happy with their government (though I suspect the majority are), I’m sure Egypt and Syria’s attempts to be democratic are a deterent.
Either way I don’t think being a democracy would solve the customer service issue. Rogers (in Canada) is awful when it comes to customer service too.
Egypt and Syria just starting. The American revolution was fought for 7 years and was not complete until the end of The War of 1812. A span of almost 40 years. A person who has never seen the sun rise does not miss it. But once they see that light, darkness soon abates.
I thought Latvia was bad!
I’d imagine trying to have these conversations in Latvian would be a lot more frustrating!
Most speak passable English to be fair to them! They’re just insanely rude 😉 I don’t think they mean to be – they just use a lot less words in Latvian so it sounds horribly impolite in English!
That was hilarious! I find myself constantly having to go IN PERSON to the Vodafone store here, because their website is down soooo often. WHAT YEAR IS IT AGAIN?! Great post – thanks for the laugh!
This is too funny, as long as I’m not the one trying to get customer service!
So, very curious, did you our did you not like the slap on the behind? 😛
Loved the ‘Probably not’ response!
And you are right. Customer Service probably sucks the world over.
I didn’t enjoy it. Unfortunately she has no qualms about telling everyone else the opposite!
Can you ask your senitors/MPs who serve you in your residential district to help? In my country, this way is helpful especially when the election is coming. Also, people complaint to the media or FB to push the authority change.
Unfortunately when your country is not a democracy you don’t have senators and MPs for each residential district.
I did resort to social media to share feedback but their response was even more amusing!