Customer service - the devil is in the lack of detail.

Some may think that I set out to lampoon businesses here on this desert island of Abu Dhabi.

I can assure you that I don’t, it’s just that most of the time they appear to TRY to get poked at.

I have always said, if you want good press, give good service, or at least start by delivering 10% of what you offer, then work your way up from there.

The source of my ire?

UAE companies that have a website, WITH a ‘contact us’ component that offers electronic contact via email. Email that is obviously being directed to mail server which if were to be sketched as a real life postbox would look like it were overstuffed, unattended and had its messages being blown down the street in the breeze.

No wait, having messages blowing down the street implies that at some point someone would pick them up. Sure that someone might be the wrong person, but at least in that instance a human interaction might be made with the fruits of ones “email-query” loins.

First in line:
A company that sells 4x4's with (cryptic clue here) Just Enough Essential Parts.

We of the Bayt Al Abudhabilist were recently fortunate enough to pick up a 4wd - cheap.

Obviously there are a few odds and ends to do to improve it’s existence, but those odds and ends are reflected by the initial low cost of purchasing the thing.

To the manufacturers website I go. Well, via Google I found the local site. It had a phone number and an address but best of all it had a section that allowed me to contact the parts department direct with my list of demands.

These weren’t great demands, but ones that I wanted met..
Did they stock oil filters?
I might need headlights
And a fan belt
And a viscous fan clutch coupling (don't ask, just know that it's an important doo-dad)
Not a big list of not uncommon parts I’ve since found out.

No response was forthcoming, but then I guess it might be that I am impatient, seven days isn’t that long… it’s only a week after all. Even though I didn’t want to appear too pushy, after 14 days I sent them another one.

And waited for another week.

Then I grabbed the toll free number from the website and phoned. Twice. Neither time was my call answered as I sat grinding my teeth in frustration.

Was there another number to call? Well yes of course there was, but that is entirely beside the point. Why OFFER a toll free number if it’s not going to be answered?

Similarly - why have a space on the web page where prospective clients can lodge their request if there is absolutely no intent to respond?

I resolved the issue not by calling, but by leaping in the mighty truckster and taking the scenic drive off the island to the industrial area where the service and parts HQ was situated. More expensive than a phone call, sure, but I was working on principle now.

I swaggered in and was met by a smiling face at the reception who directed me to the parts department, (10 metres away and to her left), of course I should have picked it out myself if I had have bothered to look, given that it had a sign in 6 foot letters denoting it as the place for all things part-ish. I blame the receptionist for my dunderheadedness, smiling and being friendly and asking how she could help - clearly I must have looked lost, and she was obviously far too good at her job.

Sitting at each of the 3 desks was a parts guy. I sat down in front of the one waving most frantically and asked him about the viscous fan thingy. At least I think he was waving, and to be fair the others were speaking loudly into their phones and so didn’t get their hips into the arm flailing.

Yes he had one, yes he could get it for me and yes it was 3 times the price I had been lead to believe it was going to be. Unfortunately the fan thingy is an important ummm.. thing so I had to get it or risk the big V8 exploding, or simply melting into the road.

When he returned with my disconcertingly small box for such an important thing, I asked him regarding the phone internet drama I had experienced.

Either he didn’t understand the question in the 4 different ways I put it to him, I wasn’t explaining myself well enough, there WAS no email/toll free service, or all of a sudden we had a language barrier rendering the terms:
"Email doesn't work" and "Phone not answered" entirely incomprehensible.

I suspect that the email thing has never worked, but surely - and I am aware that I am utilising ‘free and innovative thought’ here - something like the road-to-nowhere email does nothing to strengthen a business relationship?



Take the link off the page.


(This is directed at the company by JEEPers, but come along for the ride) - Hire me to keep an eye on the parts/service department emails. I don’t need an office, I can do it from here, and I’m never far from a computer.

Perfect I would have thought - it would take me 5 minutes a day to service.

And I’m cheap.

Of course this arangement is unlikely to happen - except in the service utopia that exists only in my head - because the first rule of customer service here is a simple one -

“Do not help a captive audience”

The interpretation of the rule is this:
Don’t fix the email thingy, because they’ll call.
Don’t fix the toll free thingy because when it doesn’t work they’ll use the pay number.
Charge them what you like, It’s not like they can go anywhere else”

I left the showroom and walked back to the car, glad at least that my look of shock, light sweating and grasping at my chest seemed to get the price down a little for the small box of steel and thermostat I was currently nursing in my arms.

Must try that when ordering coffee, only the grasping will be an indication of the affect the beverage might be having on my oesophagus…

…I’ll let you know how it goes if I decide to deploy such tactics for caffeine


  1. OMG - I sooooo hear you. I thought customer service was bad in Oz but then I moved to the UK where they don't even PRETEND that the customer is always right but rather that the customer is 'a bloody nuisance who is getting in the way of all the far more interesting things I'd rather be doing today'. Aaaaaargh!

    Maybe we could start a blog based on the outpourings of customer dissatisfaction around the world - how cathartic would that be?

    Global Cathartism Rules!


    ps. sorry if cathartism is not a word and I have just undermined the erudite nature of your blog...but you'll get over it...eventually.

  2. I like cathartism as a word.

    It smacks of a movement! A cause!

    I have just written a post about England.. it's 3 re-writes in.

    Have alot of English friends - don't want to offend LOL


Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to

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