“Lara Croft” Alison Carroll In Mall of Emirates, Virgin

October 30, 2008

I walked into Virgin yesterday, and saw a huge stage with Tomb Raider Posters around it. It turned out that the new Lara Croft, Alison Carroll, was going to show up there. So wifey, cousin and I got invited to the VIP section and sat around till she showed up. Alison is the new poster-woman for the franchise starring in the upcoming Underworld game.

I haven’t seen any other real life models around which the game had been developed, so I am not an expert on commenting; however, Alison looked like any other girl that you might bump in the bar or the train, but a little glammed-up. Anyway, she was nice enough to answer our questions (I am sure she’s paid to do that ….) and we took a few pics with her and were even interviewed on MTV.

All in a day’s work, this is the second celeb I have bumped into in Mall of Emirates.



June 16, 2008

I have written the following letter to the GM of Sharaf DG for horrendously incompetent customer service:

Mr. Juzar,

I may have made the biggest mistake in purchasing electronics from your store, Sharaf DG, located in Times Square.

It is surprising and disappointing to see a store with a substantial investment in location, partnerships and marketing failing miserably the after sales aspect and consequently in retaining customers. After my experiences at your store, you have certainly lost my business as well as the business of my family members and friends.

Please find below a list of my experience at your store, which will definitely be replicated in local newspapers to warn other people who value customer support and after-sales support as highly as I do against shopping at your establishment(s).  I will also be taking this up with the Better Business Bureau in hope that things improve for other people who have the misfortune of dealing with customer service at your store.

In early March, I purchased two items from your store in Times Square, needless to say, this is the first and the last time I will be spending my hard-earned money at your store.

The first of these items was a Body Glove Laptop Bag and the other was a Fuji Finepix Digital Camera, Model s8000.

Within one month of use, the Body Glove Bag broke at the handle and when I brought it in for replacement, I was told that it was my fault and that Sharaf DG could not do anything to help me out.  This itself was a surprise to me, but I took the blame that was pointed at me by your customer service without complaint.

I should have taken this as a precursor of the nightmare that is known as customer service at your business, but I was to find out this bitter truth one week later when my camera stopped working.

I was admittedly shocked when this happened as I had barely used the equipment.

I brought the camera in on April 15. Repair Receipt .  Customer support informed me that the camera would be fixed within two weeks maximum subject of part availability.

I called back two weeks later and was told that there had been a part malfunction and a replacement part had been ordered by the manufacturer.

I called four weeks since the date that I had given my camera in, and was again told to wait as the parts were still not in the country.  On both occasions, I kindly asked the gentleman Mr. Vinay to follow up with the manufacturer as I had barely used the camera and was looking forward to using it.

Both times he had promised to follow up and call me back the next day with an update. On both times, looking back now, not surprisingly, there was no follow-up word from him.

I waited for updates until 6 weeks from the date of my bringing the camera in and decided to follow up again.  This time I desperately needed the camera as I was going away on a business trip and decided to write in to your customer support.

Please find the email below dated June 2nd.

“To whom it may concern,

My camera has been under repair since April 15th 2008 with you at your Times Square.

I am leaving the country on June 4th 2008 for a business trip in which I will be needing the camera.  I have been chasing up after this for the last 3 weeks and your repairs department has been terrible with following my case up.

I would like my camera back, FULLY REPAIRED by TOMORROW JUNE 3rd.

If you cannot commit to that, then I would like a new camera from your store, as the camera I have returned for repair was not even used more than twice before breaking down.  I purchased this camera in Feb 2008 from your store.

I have already been inconvenienced by not having a camera in the interim period, and should I not have a camera for my upcoming trip, I will be very upset.

I look forward, for at least this time, some sort of action on your part, although looking at the dismal service in the past, I’m not holding my breath for that.

This is not the first time I am having trouble with your products.  You had best believe that this is the last time I am purchasing anything from your stores.”

I got a call following this email on June 2nd from Mr. Rajiv saying that he had talked to the Manufacturer and he would be getting the camera for me by the end of the week June 6th.  I explained to him that this would not be acceptable as I was leaving the country on June 4th.  He told me that the part was still not in the country.  I told him that this is not at all acceptable and he told me that he could do nothing to help me.

I was obviously very upset at this time and conveyed to him that I would definitely be taking this up to top management in the company.  He then told me that he would follow up and see what he could do.

Later that day he called me and told me that the manufacturer would have my camera repaired by June 3rd (funny how the missing part manifested out of nowhere) and I could come and pick it up by 4 pm.

I called back on June 3rd at 4 pm to confirm that my camera was available and was told that no one could pick my camera from the manufacturer and it I could make it to Deira to pick up the camera myself!

I was appalled by this behaviour and demanded to speak to Rajiv’s boss and was put on the phone with a Mr. Ranjeet. Ranjeet explained to me that they had not had a chance to pick up my camera, which was ready, from the manufacturer as the driver was busy doing other chores.  The manufacturer would be closing at 5 and there was nothing they could do to help.  I explained the full story to him and mentioned how long I had been waiting for my camera and had a very heated argument with him.  He told me that the camera was in fact ready and were it not for my early morning flight the next day I would have it in my hands.

After determining that there was nothing they could do to help me, they finally agreed to give to me a new camera as a temporary replacement to the one I had given in.

I could go into how this cheap replacement camera would not be a match for the one I had purchased earlier, but that is a different story.

Upon my return from my trip this week on June 12th, I called Rajiv up to speak with him again.

He told me that my camera, which I was told earlier was fixed, was still under repair!!!!  I was obviously shocked at this and asked him how this was happening. He told me that since they had given me a replacement camera, no one had actually followed up with fixing the original camera.  I was VERY VERY UPSET. Before I left I was told that my camera was fixed. Now I was told not only was my camera still under repair, I would have to wait some more time to fix it.  I gave Rajiv an ultimatum to have my camera ready by Sunday June 15th. He promised, as usual, to have it ready by then.

Today when I called back, I was told by Vinay, who I spoke to, that Rajiv was on vacation for a week and when I asked to speak to the customer service manager, I was put on hold for ten minutes after which the phone was hung up on me.

I called back and asked to speak to the store manager Mr Sanjay and was told that he is not around.  The lady took my number and told me that he would call me back.  As I write this to you, I am still waiting to hear from him.  Employees mirror their management, and frankly, looking at Sharaf DG employee behaviour, I wouldn’t expect a call from Mr. Sanjay either.

Needless to say, if you have had the patience to read the entire debacle, you may see my frustration in the whole matter.  Your customer service has lied to me more than once. They have been incompetent in following up the matter without prompting from me. Literally, I have spent more time chasing up with your customer service than actually using the camera I purshased. I feel really shocked and appalled by the behavior of your company employees. I am sure that I am one of many casualties of your customer support and when I release this to the media, I am certain more worms will crawl out of the woodwork.

It is your saving grace that the company is running in the Middle East.  This kind of service would have drummed you out of business in the western world not only through the Better Business Bureau but also through countless lawsuits, no thanks to your customer support team.

I have to say that without a doubt, that this has been one of the worst experiences in my life with any kind of after sales customer support.  I am sure you that your experience, Mr. Juzer, comes from understanding that repeat business is what drives retail and can appreciate the gravity of this matter.  The number of times I have been to your stores in chasing up after your customer service department have shown me exactly how many OTHER people are in the very same predicament with your company. I am certain that given the right forum they would reveal their horror stories as well. It would be worth your while to look into the operation of the customer service department and sort out their issues.

Mr. Juzar, I am hoping that you can fix the matter through your intervention, but honestly after what I have been through, I am not putting my money on anything positive from Sharaf DG.

I am not one to complain, and honestly, this is the first case that I am forced into writing such emails, but things have really come to a head. I will be submitting my complaints to local media and blogging it over the internet.

Should you wish to discuss this, you are welcome to reach me by phone or by email.


Frog legs – The nastiness of Dubai’s water

April 10, 2008

I just came back from a one week business trip from East Africa and found tadpoles swimming around in my toilet bowl!!!!

I wanted to take a pic but I had to flush before i threw up on them.

Just goes to show how nasty the tap water in Dubai is! I have a co-worker who showed me a simple test that a tap filtration salesman did to show the amount of filth that floats around in the tap water here. The pictures look like raw sewage. It is truly appalling!

I’ll try and get the pics and put them up here….

Just thinking about water we use makes me shiver!

Kenyans say the daftest things….

March 16, 2008

I really hate Kenyans who leave Kenya and seem to forget about what the country is like.

Case in point, I went to Chili’s at Mall of Emirates today. We were greeted by a hostess who looked VERY obviously Kenyan.

She led us to our seats and I said, Asante(thank you).  She looked at me like I had just barraged her with a slew of choice expletives.  Here follows our conversation:

Her: “You speak SWAHILI!!!!!!”(she looks shocked. Almost disgusted)

Me: “Yes I speak Swahili. Are you from Kenya”

Her:”Yes, but HOW did you know I’m from Kenya?”

Me: Shrugging, “You look it….. besides I’m Kenyan too”

Her:”But you’re not BLACK!!!” (here’s when I wanted to slap some intelligence into her)

Me:”How long have you lived in Kenya?”

Her:”All my ..”

Me:”Have you been living on a shamba(farm) somewhere? Cos if you visit any city you will find that other people that are not black have lived in Kenya for hundreds of years. You should go to Nairobi sometime. It’s a great city to visit.”

Her:”I actually lived in Nairobi..”(shes being defiant now to show that only black people are ‘real’ Kenyans)

Me:”And how long have you lived in Dubai?”

Her:”Three weeks”

Me: “Great. Its good to see farm people get out a little”


Me:”Ok. Thank you. See you later”

Apparently this has happened to a friend of mine a bunch of times as well. Not at the same place but around Dubai.

It’s fucked up to see Kenyans behaving this way.

If you see the girl at Chilis at MOE near the movie theaters. Go say Jambo. Especially if you are not a ‘real’ Kenyan.


Insane Accident

March 12, 2008

Yesterday morning, there was a horrific accident on the Abu-dhabi-Dubai Highway resulting in a 300 car pile-up, at least 3 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Result of the crash was a heavy fog that was in the area, resulting in poor visibility.

Police blamed the accident on poor EXPAT driving among other things…..

God bless the people involved in the accident and their families


The Dubai ‘In the lift’ Crowd

February 24, 2008

Dubai is known for being super crowded.  This is apparent everywhere you go, on the streets, in the restaurants and yes even in the elevators.

 My new office building in Dubai is around 40 storeys high with a total of 8 lifts servicing the building.  This particular building was commissioned to be a residential building at first, but by some zoning miracles, the owners converted it into commercial properties. This is evident in the lack of the proper facilities that augment a regular commercial building, such as lack of parking area, and insufficient elevators.

You have to get in early in the morning to get to work on time. If you’re late, add another 20 minutes to your total travelling time before you actually make it to the office.  It sucks to travel an hour and a half from Sharjah just to get into town (for the scores of people that live there) and to come and wait 20 minutes to get into the elevators. I’m not sure how other buildings are in this respect but our building has certainly caused many people to either quit smoking, cos they have to come down to get a smoke or to work from the smoking zone at the bottom of the building.  Really, just a smoke break takes the span of a hour!

Also, because of the immense traffic in the infrequent elevators, many people working in the building have to resort to the ability of a runaway chinese acrobat to get into the elevator should you be lucky enough to chance one. The elevator crowd is a culture in itself, I guess it is a part of what dubai has become. There are people on the elevators fiddling with their blackberries, people not trying to stare at everyone else, people trying to stare through the lady across’s bra, people trying to deliver food, and people trying to blank everyone else out and continue having conversations with their workmates as if there weren’t twenty other people squashed besides them!

Love it or hate it … this is Dubai! I’m loving even this part of it!

Dubai Rentals!

February 19, 2008

I can’t believe how much Dubians pay for rent… it’s near extortion!! There’s no in between, you either pay up or you are an automatic geographic or social outcast! More about my rental adventures later, I actually have to get some work done in this job, believe it or not!