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?”
“Not really”
“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?”
“Probably not”

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?”