Thursday, November 3, 2011

Please don't shout at me, I'm NEW

I was wondering through Dubai Mall the other day and I spotted 'Please don't shout at me, I'm NEW' emblazoned on the back of the shirt of a lady who was walking in front of me. I didn't see which shop she worked at and I'm ashamed to say I chuckled when I saw this before feeling a pang of sympathy for the lady who has to have this pointed out on her shirt to stop her getting the hairdryer treatment.

It speaks volumes about the attitude that some people can have to customer service in Dubai, that people have to be told not to go mental.

Most people will have witnessed some restaurant or shop staff member having an absolute strip torn off them by a customer at some point in their time in Dubai. The wages can be extremely low and seeing some usually comparatively well off person holding forth about some minor issue, threateneing to have them sacked or whatever, is pretty unedifying.

Don't get me wrong, the customer service can be appalling and I've very nearly lost it on a few occasions, mainly in instances when people feel free to waste your time. The main problem I find is that staff will tell you what you think you want to hear: "Ie, is my photo print ready?" "Yes, Ma'am." "Shall I come in today?" "Yes Ma'am" then you arrive to find that it is in fact not ready, come back in three days but the shop worker was afraid of upsetting you by saying no it wasn't. This sounds fairly minor but when it happens again and again in various forms, it can be immensely frustrating. They've dispensed with the problematic customer on the phone for the present and will worry about the problem when you are actually in the store face to face, complaining that your photo is not ready. Hopefully you won't come and pick up your photo for several days by which time it will be ready.  You learn pretty quick that when people say they're going to do something 'today' in Dubai they mean tomorrow or possibly next week.

People do expect much higher standards of customer service in the UAE and they don't always get it for reasons mentioned above, hence shouting in stores and restaurants being fairly routine. I tried to imagine what the lady's shirt would have had printed on it if she worked in a UK store:

"Dear customer, I am new to the store, please be so kind as to be patient while I am learning to be a full member of the team" or some such corporate bumpf rather than the pleading Please don't shout at me.  Answers on a postcard, which will take three months to reach me because the postal service seems to be run by one bloke in an empty warehouse in Jebel Ali.    

In other news, the Khaleej Times is reporting that ex-pats in the Emirates will have to present their Emirates ID card to get their transactions finalised (whatever that should mean) from June 1, 2012 onwards.  Who wants a bet that this will be pushed back?

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