Monday, September 18, 2006

Pirates of Penzance

New laptop? No problem. Pocket DVD player? Easy peasy. Credit-card sized six megapixel digital camera with HiFi sound and 4GB storage? Certainly sir; how many would you like? It's generally possible to buy the latest high-tech gizmo from any number of retail outlets in town. You would expect a new item to be faultless. If it didn't work when you got it home it should surely be replaced or the purchase price refunded. Not here. Retailers have a dreadful habit of referring to the small print at the bottom of the receipt that reads Goods once sold will not be taken back. Fair enough, perhaps, if you discover that you could have bought it elsewhere for less money (should have shopped around, perhaps) but it is totally unacceptable in my view to pay for a new camcorder and then wait for weeks while it languishes in the workshop until the replacement for the burned-out integrated circuit is finally delivered from Korea by pack llama.

Yet just about everywhere only sells boxes. Any technical queries invariably get referred to a workshop that is probably somewhere in the dingy depths of Rashidiya. Despite the plethora of goodies on sale, it's always difficult to locate anything that isn't entirely mainstream. How many times have I been advised by a retailer that the item I want is out of stock and will have to be ordered...from Japan? More often that I should, and that's if it's available at all.

It's not only consumer electronics. I had to trawl Karama's domestic appliance scrapyard before I found a suitable belt for my washing machine, and that was pre-owned. A new drive belt was totally impossible to find anywhere, and that was after a lot of phone calls and visits to any number of purveyors of white goods.

Of course, the retail trade isn't always like this. When good customer service occurs it is very good indeed. I was delighted, when I returned a burned-out battery charger, to be told, "Whoops, our mistake sir. Wrong voltage. Here, have a new one." I was similarly impressed when I rang the cooker shop about a broken pane of glass in my oven door. The replacement was delivered and installed within twenty-four hours, all free of charge.

The following ditty is not aimed at those retailers who believe in customer satisfaction. It commemorates only those who regard customer service as a quaint anomaly, and consequently do not wish for any particular client, or any of his family, or his friends or associates ever to visit his store. The tune is by Sir Arthur Sullivan, and originally appeared in The Pirates of Penzance as "A Policeman's Lot". Appropriate for 19th September, perhaps?

Do you fancy a new flat-screen home theatre,
(Home theatre)
Or a camera, or Sony PS3?
Before taking it away with you, you'd better
(You had better)
Check it's fully working, 'cos the guarantee
Is unlikely to provide you a replacement
(No replacement)
If it's broken when unpacked. The sales guy
(Sales guy)
Will send it for repairing in the basement,
(In the basement)
And refunds are not coming in Dubai.


If it's broken when it's bought,
Your satisfaction will be naught.
That's the way we all do business in Dubai.
(In Dubai)

They will look at you as if you've grown antennae
(Grown antennae)
If you ask for a replacement part or spare.
(Or a spare)
You might as well request a pile of any-
(Pile of any).
Thing that's from a rocking-horse's derrière.
My front-loader had a drive-belt that was broken,
(That was broken)
So it wouldn't spin my clothes to make them dry.
(Make them dry)
My garments hadn't washed, though they were soakin',
(They were soakin')
For a spare belt "was not coming in Dubai."


If it isn't on the shelf
You must import it for yourself,
For alas, "it isn't coming in Dubai."
(in Dubai)

For domestic bits and bobs in vain you forage,
(Vain you forage)
Though of gaskets, grommets, grub-screws for your car
(For your car)
There is never any shortage. At the garage
(At the garage)
They've all automotive spares, which is bizarre.
(Is bizarre)
If you want an iPod, I am a proponent
(A proponent)
That there seems an inexhaustible supply.
(Bull supply)
But if you need to source a spare component,
(Spare component)
You'll be told, "It isn't coming in Dubai."


You will find that in this region
Spares are anything but legion.
For they mostly "are not coming in Dubai."
(In Dubai).


Mme Cyn said...


trailingspouse said...

It's the usual Dubai Illusion . . . it looks like an advanced consumer society . . . but scratch the surface . . .

Shiver me timbers! Great ditty!

kaya said...

So funny!
When the motherboard burned down on a 6 month old Toshiba laptop here what Plug Ins had to say:

Sorry we dont have the part in stock, we will have to order it from Japan. (took 9 weeks).
Ad nauseam....

Gnomad said...

this sounds so familiar, when the electrics for the window on my jeep cherokee died, the mechanic said he'd have to order it in specially. That was over a year ago in Doha, Qatar. I am now in Damman and have sold the car along with the faulty window and passed on the order number etc so that when it does finally arrive the proud new owner of the car can have it fitted.

At home in the Philippines I would just get some chap to dismantle it, rewind the motor and refit it for about 500 pesos (less than 10 dollars US)

which place seems more civilised? I know which I prefer!



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