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?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vandalism is theft

If you were careless or foolish enough to leave your wallet lying around on your desk or in the street, you might not be surprised if some self-help merchant helped himself to the contents. The act would be theft: taking the property of another with intent permanently to deprive the rightful owner.

When I came back to Beloved Wife’s car in IKEA’s car park a little while back, I was very disappointed to discover a pair of deep scores across the bonnet. Evidently some overloaded shopper had staggered out of IKEA and used the bonnet as a handy shelf to put his or her shopping on while rummaging for car keys. Sliding the shopping off the bonnet left a pair of parallel scratches. I was incandescent with fury! After I’d tried and failed to deal with the scratches with coloured polish, the car eventually and inevitably ended up having the bonnet panel resprayed. Ouch, my wallet!

Is it reasonable to interpret the car damage as the same as theft? I think it is. Choosing to repair it reduces brass in pocket just as effectively as getting robbed. Failing to have the repair done reduces the car’s eventual trade-in value, making the financial effect much the same. Remember, this not fair wear and tear. It’s additional and unnecessary extra depreciation.

I see very little difference between someone nicking Dh1000 out of my wallet and someone else doing Dh1000 of damage to my car. Anyone who has ever had to fork out for a session in the automotive body shop will realise that Dh1000 doesn’t actually buy very much in the Departments of Panel Beating and Paint Spraying. The primary difference is that if you catch a thief, the full weight of the law drops upon him as if from a great height. Compare this with the victim of a vandalised motor vehicle, who is advised to go and get a life. Remember Jayne’s Hubs’ Harley? That was even worse than my experience: malicious damage rather than incompetence, and a hugely expensive custom spray job rather than a stock colour.

Motor vehicles can be a particularly emotive subject when damaged. But I ask the “Get a life” brigade, what if the target of the damage is your prize tomatoes or your recently repainted garden wall? What if a hacker trashes your website?

Incidentally, while randomly surfing the net, I found links to a product that, if it works, would be very useful.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

We've got you covered

After my recent experience at Welcare – the aching and numbness has gone now, thanks for asking – I made an appointment to see a doctor for a wholly unrelated medical issue. Let’s call it foot ‘n’ mouth. Only the name has been changed. And the symptoms. There are no lurid pictures from the Tropical Diseases House of Horrors either.

I turned up at Welcare and proffered my medical insurance card. Last time I did this, all medical bills were paid directly and painlessly by the insurance company to the clinic apart from a Dh50 deductible excess. This time, the receptionist looked down his nose at the card.

“Your complaint is not covered, Mr Goat.”

“Excuse me? I have already checked the list of specific exclusions on my policy and as foot ‘n’ mouth isn’t a self-inflicted injury, cosmetic surgery or a dental complication it’s not excluded. Please check with the insurance company.”

“There’s no need. Foot ‘n’ mouth is never covered.”

Anyway, having made the appointment I found out how much it would cost in full and I had the treatment. Ouch, that stings. And so did the treatment.

A week later I’d been through the medical insurance policy with a fine-tooth comb. I had the same argument at Welcare, but this time I managed to get, along with the invoice, a doctor’s note detailing the treatment. This I submitted to the medical insurance company who confirmed that foot ‘n’ mouth was indeed covered, and that I could expect a cheque for full reimbursement, less the Dh50 deductible.

A month later I have the cheque. As well as the Dh50 compulsory excess, the company deducted 20% “because you didn’t show your insurance card at the clinic.” Well I did, actually, but Welcare refused to accept it. They lied to me. They failed to check when I queried their disingenuity. And anyway, the small print says that costs at Welcare are 100% recoverable.

The foot ‘n’ mouth has now cleared up. Yet I am still battling to recover sums owed to me in accordance with my contract with the medical insurance company. What a pity that the clinic and insurance have together conspired to make the financial side of healthcare so unnecessarily complicated.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Infamy, infamy

I see Michelle Palmer has at last spoken out concerning that 'beach romp' incident. It was, we're told, "...a stitch-up from day one."

All's well that ends well, however. According to this, large sums of money are likely to change hands for lurid "My Hell in Al Slammah" sensationalist journalism. But given the high profile of the case, wasn't this inevitable? Half a million quid each for Ms Palmer and Mr Vince Acors for getting boozed up and then not having sex. I wonder if there would have been nearly as much media attention (yes, including this blog) if the authorities had merely pursued charges of Drunk and Disorderly, Offensive Behaviour and Assaulting a Police Officer? I suspect not, and in any case there would then have been no accusations of a cultural schism; those three charges would probably earn an arrest anywhere on the planet.

Nevertheless, given that the deportation sentence hasn't yet been carried out, I would counsel Ms Palmer to keep her beans thoroughly unspilled. It is not too late to face new charges of perhaps 'showing the UAE's legal system in an unflattering light.'

I am irresistably reminded of Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II when she advised Lord Percy: "It's up to you. Either you can shut up, or you can have your head cut off."


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.