Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Caveat emptor

Some recent posts reminded me of a couple of examples of disingenuous tosh as perpetrated by the motor trade in Qatar.

For reasons that I don't need to go into here, I wrote off a Galloper back in 1999. Although the car was driveable, the whole body was bent. There was a camel-shaped dent in the roof, and the windscreen looked like a chandelier inasmuch as it consisted of a million irregularly-shaped chunks of glass. I got the insurance money and busied myself with finding an alternative vehicle.

At a party a month or so later, I chanced to be in conversation with a guy who was interested in buying a used Galloper. "The Grumpy Goat used to have one of them," said the host, "Why don't you ask him what they're like?"

It transpired that the car he'd been looking at in a used car dealer's showroom was my old one, repaired by some back-street body shop. I warned the party guest not to touch the car with a barge pole. Later, I nefariously went into the Rose Cars Showroom on Salwa Road and spoke to the salesman.

"Is very good, clean car, Sir. One careful British expat owner from new. Full service history."

OK so far...

"He went back to his home country."

Did he indeed?

"No Sir. It has never been in an accident."


I could see the ripples in the roof line and the back door that was misaligned. I put a copy of a photograph showing the car before it was repaired into the glove box in order to alert any potential buyer.

The same salesman then pointed me at a late model Pajero. Again, he told me about the main dealer full service history. He even suggested that I go and talk to the Mitsubishi agent. Which I did.

According to the history that the agent got from the VIN, the car had originally been imported into Dubai, where it had been written off in a roll-over accident. Dubai police had refused to endorse the repair, presumably owing to a bent chassis, so the car had been exported to Qatar. And no, there was no service history at all. Not even a little bit.

I would like to believe that over the last few years the motor trade has cleaned up its act. But then, sometimes my quixotic nature can get the better of me...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

It's caprine time!

I learned today that there's another grumpy goat out there. The one I'm referring to has just been demoted for failing to keep in step or possibly to stand in line (dependent on the source of the story). Wouldn't you be grumpy if it happened to you? The BBC notes that following his demotion, Fusiliers no longer have to stand to attention when the goat marches past. Grump, grump, grump.

And there's another caprine story. It seems that in Manhattan it's OK to use an unsilenced petrol lawnmower, but not a goat, to keep the grass under control. I take the mayor's point though:"Other residents will want one too". I'd keep a cute goat if I didn't live in a tower block. Just as well the story originates in Manhattan, Montana rather than the better-known one in New York.

Two goat-related stories in the same edition of 7DAYS. And following on from the Tenerife moped story too. My cup runneth over!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Who'd like a go at driving?

I couldn't resist this little gem, sent to me by one of my spies. The story goes that the Tenerife police stopped a moped on the sea-front road because there were three helmeted riders, and the legal maximum is usually two. It transpired that the middle one was a goat.

Read about it, translated from the Spanish and blogged about by an expat.

Born to be wi - i - i - i - i - ild!

Despite opinions to the contrary, you could make it up, but only if you had a fertile imagination. My own imagination questions what they did with the horns. Could it have looked anything like this?

(The image is probably the property of Walt Disney, Walden Media and/or WETA Workshop).

Would you buy a car from this man?

Perusing the UAE Community blog, I went off and looked at AutoGuy's post, which reminded me of when I tried to buy a new car in the UAE.

I had a good look round the new and nearly new, I took a load of advice, and eventually decided that a Chevrolet TrailBlazer was the way forward. A full five-seater 4x4 with a monstrously powerful motor. I was a bit concerned about the ground clearance, but there are after-market workarounds to deal with that.

Anyway, the fiction soon started. The GMC salesman told me that although the Envoy and the TrailBlazer are virtually identical, the Envoy is Dh20,000 more expensive because it's not assembled in Mexico. The vehicle VIN shows this to be a less than accurate statement; both are made in the USA. The Chevrolet salesman was keen to tell me that the engine had a timing belt (ugh!), which is a downright lie. It's got a timing chain (Huzzah!). Still, these guys are salesmen, not technicians.

So having arranged funds from my bank, I went unto Liberty Automobiles in Sharjah and sat down in front of the salesman with a big wad of cash, and indicated that I wished to arrange purchase of a TrailBlazer. He was talking on his mobile phone, so I waited. And waited.

Three mobile phone calls later, and it seemed that I had turned into the Invisible Goat. Eventually I was forced to interrupt the salesman's dialling to advise him that if he wasn't interested in my money I would be taking it elsewhere. I left the showroom, pausing only to advise incoming potential customers that the sales staff apparently regarded social phone calls as higher priority than taking the clients' money.

Al Futtaim got my money instead. I'm very pleased with my Prado.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


It's another tale of crass incompetence by the purveyors of the Red Triangles. Having instructed through internet banking that some money be moved from one account in my name to a different account held at the same branch and in the same name, I rather anticipated that this would take place.

Alas, no. According to the helpless desk, the bank has been bombarded with fraudulent instructions through its website, and therefore chose to ignore, disobey or otherwise dishonour all internet banking instructions received around last week. This being the case, it is highly mysterious that instruction I posted to pay my credit card was processed promptly, as was payment of my SEWA bill (eventually, once SEWA got its act together, but that's another tale).

It would seem that the bank is incapable of picking up the phone if worried about fraud and asking, "Hello, Mr Goat? Did you instruct movement of funds from A to B? Yes? OK then. We'll deal with it."

And how likely is it that some fraudster would hack into someone's bank account and instruct that money be moved between accounts in the same name?

I am pleased to report that four telephone calls to miscellaneous people at various locations and a lot of complaining has finally resulted in my original instruction being carried out. Good things come to those who bleat.

And the title of this post? It's a pun.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Good Samaritan

Interesting isn’t it that ‘Passers by are prohibited by UAE law to provide medical intervention, such as moving victims and providing cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), unless trained to do so’ and yet ‘Too many people are bystanders when it comes to accidents and life-threatening emergencies in Dubai

Yet this is the confusing message published here in the Gulf News. The news article wants people to phone 999, and appears to encourage the public to attend lifesaving courses, and yet if you were to touch a casualty this would in all likelihood earn you gaol time.

It would be very difficult for me to prove in court that I’m qualified in First Aid. I have certificates to prove it, yet my Residence Visa specifies me as an engineer, not a paramedic. What would I do if I were first upon the scene of a cardiac arrest? Call the ambulance and then wait for twenty minutes and watch someone die, or spend those twenty minutes doing CPR? The former would in all likelihood result in a corpse; the latter probably would too, but with the added complication of incarceration, claims for blood money, a criminal record and deportation.

Maybe the ambulance could be on the scene in the four minutes necessary to avoid the risk of permanent brain damage for the victim. But there have been horror stories of the emergency services taking ages cruising round and round The Greens looking for the right villa.

I want to help, I’m trained to do so, and yet UAE law prohibits me from possibly saving a life.

Compare this with the cliché of the missionary doctor in Darkest Africa being informed by the village chief: “If my son dies, you die.” I had hoped that we’re all beyond this attitude, although it seems we’re not.

It isn’t limited to the UAE, though. I heard of a diving instructor who saved a choking diner’s life through prompt use of the Heimlich manoeuvre, only to be sued for breaking one of the ungrateful victim’s ribs. However, I drew a blank with Google, so this may be a myth.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.