Saturday, May 23, 2009

Something rotten in the state of Dubai...

Flew back from London over night back to the UAE.  9:30pm flight landing in Abu Dhabi at 7:00am but only 7hrs in duration.

Meal, movie, sleep.... I managed to get a good 3hrs or so I think.

Get home around 8am and go to turn the AC on... its already low 30's and the house is stifling after being without AC for the 6 or so days.  But it didnt work... then I noticed the smell in the kitchen.  The power had been disconnected and all the food in the fridge and the meat in the freezer had been left to spoil.  I had my first bill on the last day before I left for London and said to myself that I would pay it on my return.  Seems however they move very quickly from bill to disconnection in these parts!

Gagging badly, I removed the lamb chops and sausages from the freezer along with curdled milk, bad mayonaise and eggs.  The stench was horrible!

After that, I had to think on how to get the power back on... my mobile and blackberry were both down to single bars on their battery power and I couldnt recharge them.  I looked up the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) and tried to call them.  Then I realised that my mobile was out of credit and so I went to the car to drive to the shops.  No luck however as the car was locked in by the electric garage door and there seemed to be no overide mechanism.  It was a walk to the shops.

The shops aren't that far, about 15mins but the heat was already Australian mid-summer temps.  I get to the shops, buy my Etisalat pre-pay voucher and re-credit the phone... not much battery left though.  I sit in the coffee shop and dialed DEWA.  Yes, I can pay the bill and get connected today but I need my account number.  The account number is on the bill which is in my office and that is 100+kms away in Abu Dhabi and I dont have the car out of the garage.  The lady tells me my account number is the same as the meter number and I have to read that to her.  So I walk back home in the heat.

I find the meter number and call back and the customer service person says yes, my bill was overdue and I owe 1650 Dhs.  I say can I pay over the phone but they dont do that... only in branches (which are closed) or online on the DEWA website.  My modem is off though with no power...

I ring fellow Australian Green Community friends Catherine & Peter who invite me over to use their computer to pay the bill.  I set off on foot and they live on the other side of the shops.  In 20mins I get there and am soaking wet with sweat.  I gladly drink some water and go online.  Turns out I need to register first so I fill out the online form.  The process takes some time but at the last stage fails because it tells me my DEWA account is in my company name and hence need to have a letter from them authorising me to pay online!  A process thats about a week in duration!!

I search their website and see that I can pay at the Emirates Post Office (which is open 7 days) or online via the Emirates Post website.  I opt for the online version and register with them to pay bills.  After successfully doing that I enter my DEWA account number only to be told because its a disconnection and not a regular bill, that I cannot pay via Emirates Post.

I ring the DEWA call centre again.  They tell me to ring 991 which is DEWA Emergency Connections.  I call 991 (expecting the phone to die) and explain to them my predicament.  The guy tells me that I can pay in person on Fridays at their distribution and network yards at a place called Al Satwa.  Al Satwa is about 30kms away and they only accept cash.

So I bid Catherine & Peter goodbye and head for the shops (to withdraw the cash) and to hail a taxi.  Taxi's are plentiful and the trip takes 30mins and costs me 75Dhs.  I find the DEWA complex and it stretches across one city block.  I off course am on the wrong side of the block and have to walk around the block in this industrial area in 45 degree heat to the Customer Service office.

I do that, but its more like a shed than an office and I am in what seems like the staff canteen for the workers were a guy sits by a desk and a phone and I hand over the cash.  He charges me an extra 50 Dhs service charge and says the power will be back on in 1-2 hrs when a man will come out to connect it.

I hail a taxi and go home.  Its about 1:30pm and has been a bit over an hour since I paid... I give them the benefit of the doubt but the house is hot and smelly... I go for a swim, but its uncomfortable outside as well.  Inside I crash on the bed and wake up at 4pm after the jet lag got me.  I am soaking wet with sweat.

No power though and I had turned my phone off to conserve what little power I had left and I make a call to 991.  They had no record of me!!  I tell them I have a farking receipt in my hand and they check and yes I have paid... someone will be by in 1-2 hrs.  I basically sit and sweat and am dozing on the lounge when suddenly the AC bursts into life.  Its 5:30pm now and I look outside and there is an Indian man at the fusebox.  I go outside and he tells me that he has been trying to ring me since 1pm but couldnt get me on my mobile (which I had turned off).  I could have throttled him!!

So that was my day off after my London trip... pretty rotten both in the fridge and out


fool said...

Dude... that sucks. I've had similar moments in Thailand, and the HEAT just makes it worse. Glad things are back to normal now. Puzzled about the garage door though, usually there's a little cord you can pull down on and then manually lift it up. Seems unreal that there is no mechanism for when the power is off - could be very dangerous potentially.

Mr_Grant said...

Who says America doesn't produce anything anymore? Clearly the Emirates imported US-made bureaucracy.