Monday, December 29, 2008

Season of goodwill

The Goatmobile is back from its 120,000km service. That’s a major, and therefore expensive, event. I was delighted to get the car back on Christmas Eve, the same day I’d dropped it off. A lot less impressive was the unexpected Dh40 additional surcharge.

So why is the Goat bleating on about Dh40 after lashing out nearly two grand?

Because someone stole it. That’s why.

At service reception I was advised to remove the small change that’s been coalescing over the years on the console. It’s for feeding Dubai’s and Sharjah’s ravening Pay and Display machines. I was astonished to have accumulated about Dh80 in one dirham coins. Rather than rip my pockets to shreds, I concealed the cash in the car but out of sight of any potential self-help merchant. The service receptionist said that only the cash was an issue; I wouldn’t need to remove my off-road recovery stuff, camping gear and all the other useful odds and sods that live semi-permanently in the Goatmobile. This was just as well because I’d failed to bring my spare garden shed.

Picking up the car, I noted that half of the coins had grown little legs and wandered off. This was confirmed by the service receptionist who agreed that the the ‘after’ pile was only half the size of the ‘before’ pile. I announced in my usual stentorian style that there was a thief in the workshop, and was immediately ushered into the manager’s office where the other customers couldn’t hear of this embarrassing occurrence. Clearly the thief’s pathetic attempt at subterfuge – only nicking half the cash so it looked at first sight like nothing was missing – had failed to pay off. The manager was hugely apologetic, and said that he’d review the CCTV and check with the guy who’d serviced with my car to see if he was weighed down with an implausible quantity of loose change.

I pointed out to the manager that I wasn’t hard up for Dh40. I didn’t want the thief prosecuted: season of goodwill to ALL men and all that. But I did want him to know that he’d been caught. The manager said that he’d phone me to let me know what he’d discovered. I’m still waiting for the call. Big surprise.

Yes, the fault is mine. I was warned to remove the money and I chose to do otherwise. And no, I don’t want the cash returned. The thief can put it into a charity box. I find it beyond comprehension that anyone would risk possible prosecution, imprisonment and deportation for such a paltry sum. But the biggest issue, aside from theft being just plain wrong, is the betrayal of trust. I have no idea where to get the Goatmobile serviced in future. I need to find a place where I can actually trust the people who are doing the work.

I mean, how can I trust someone with my brakes if I can’t trust him with my cash?



Kamal said...

Dear GG,

Welcome to the club, just last week I gave my car to Al Habtoor Motors in Sharjah, and when I received it back, I found cash missing (around Dhs. 30 / 35) but it was my mistake, that I left it in the car, plus some brand new Socks, which I forgot to remove and to top it all my tasbeeh (rosary). Apparently the thief wanted to pray for his forgiveness on stolen Rosary :-)

Grumpy Goat said...

According to one of my dive club buddies, he gets his Nissan denuded of small change every time it's serviced!

Gnomad said...

When in the Middle East I had the same problem, maybe its part of the valet service, cleaning the car of all that filthy lucre? Perhaps because the mechanics are so poorly paid they justify it to themselves as "perks" and see it as a part of their wages. It is still theft though.

I came up with a partial solution. I found it prudent to leave packets of chewing gum in the car when it went for service. The gum would always be taken, sometimes a stick or two, sometimes the whole packet, but nothing else ever went missing if there was gum to be taken. Perhaps it's only a sin if you steal more than one type of thing?

I don't chew gum myself, and neither does my wife, but its always given in lieu of small change in the shops, so there was always a plentiful supply and it wasn't a loss.

A colleague of mine didn't have anything taken from his car for ages. He said this was because he kept a copy of the Holy Qu'ran in the glove box, but one day that went missing along with all his small change too.

Jayne said...

It seems like nicking the small change is normal practice in the UAE. The last time the Ford went in for its service at Premier Motors, a measly 3 dirhams disappeared from the ashtray.


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