Wednesday, May 24, 2006

DEWA Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do

Bit of a rant this. Sorry. Not.

DEWA (Dubai Electricity & Water err, Authority, Agency, Alligators) have announced that customers can now pay their bills at ENOC gas stations. This is a good thing, unless you are unfortunate enough to have been disconnected, in which case you must go to an actual DEWA office.

We were disconnected a few weeks ago. I didn't blog about it then because I would probably have broken my keyboard with the ferocity of my angry typing. Here's the story.

Our electricity and water usage has always been modest, and we used to be fairly relaxed about paying the bill. DEWA seemed to be ok with a growing outstanding amount as long as it didn't exceed the amount of your deposit, which for an apartment is Dhs 1,000. I would pay the bill every three or four months, and they never told me how much they hated me.

But, about a year ago, DEWA became a collection agency for the Municipality Property TAX, and also for the Dhs333 per month Gardens Central Cooling charge. (By the way, this charge was waived for people working in Media City, Internet City or Jebel Ali Free Zone, until a year ago, thereby creating another sneaky addition to our cost of living). So our DEWA bill shot up from about Dhs 250 a month to about Dhs 800.

BetterArf set up an automated payment thingie on her credit card, and theoretically we should have been OK. So when the power was cut off a few weeks ago I was fairly sure it was a general failure, and not an act of vindictiveness by DEWA. We've actually had four or five power cuts in the past few months, and they generally last less than an hour. I went and had lunch somewhere, fully expecting the power to be restored when I got back.

It wasn't.

I called DEWA, who confirmed we had been disconnected. I asked them if they'd received the automated payment a few weeks ago. Yes, indeed they had, but there was still an outstanding balance of Dhs 1,200. OK, no problem, switch the power back on, and we'll pay that next month.
'Oh, we can't do that, you have to pay it now.'

'Right,' says I, 'where's your Jebel Ali office?'

'Ah,' she says, 'you know the Mazaya Centre near Defence Roundabout?'

'Indeed I do, I've been there several times, but now I live in Jebel Ali, so I need to know where your Jebel Ali office is'.

'The one near Defence Roundabout is the nearest one.'

In case you are unfamiliar with the geography of Dubai, this is about 350 kilometers away (I'm lying, it's about 35 kms, but it involves going on the Sheikh Zayed Road, so it would take at least half an hour, and quite likely a lot longer depending on the congestion / 'accident' situation). This is massively inconvenient. I'm getting a bit angry now, so I ask to be transferred to her boss. This guy is completely unhelpful. I mean completely. He spoke to me as if I was a piece of talking camel dung. I complain that the power was disconnected without any warning. He asks if I had not seen the red writing on the bill. I foolishly admit that I never read the bill, it just goes straight in the round file. He is quite simply unable to understand this, surely my DEWA bill is the most important thing in my world?

I try another tack. Hardly any of the outstanding amount is for electricity or water, it is unfair to disconnect the power under these circumstances, and we have made a substantial payment already this month. He says it's such a huge amount that they had no choice. I'm puzzled by this choice of words and ask him what he means. He explains that it is much more than our deposit, and how does he know that I'm not planning to run up an even bigger bill and then run away from the UAE without paying it? What fucking planet are you on mister, I'm thinking. He sounded like a local, by the way. I withdraw that last sentence. No, I don't. Shit. Anyway, this is clearly going nowhere at all, so I decide to try to get some useful information out of him, while he's on. I ask him when they are going to open an office in West Dubai to serve the huge new population there. He says, with evident pride, that he is not aware of any such plans.

So there's nothing for it, I'll have to risk my life on Sheikh Zayed Road, and waste two hours of my life just to pay a fucking bill. And by the way, this was in the old Beemer when the AC wasn't working, the windows wouldn't open and it was the middle of a hot afternoon. Worse than yeuckh.

The irony of DEWA not having an office in Jebel Ali is that they have about eight king-size power stations there. It's not like they couldn't turn a little bit of one into some kind of service centre. Or rent a shop in Ibn Battuta or something.

And while I'm on with DEWA-bashing, they stole Dhs 2,000 from me. Several years ago we lived in a villa, and the deposit for villas is Dhs 2,000. When we left I tried to get it refunded, but they insisted on me producing the original receipt. I had turned the house upside down looking for it, to no avail. I had gazillions of other receipts, but I must have put this one in a special super-secure place because it was worth money. Buggered if I could find it though. I try logic on them: you've been supplying me with electricity and water for xx years - would you have done that if I had not paid the deposit? Does your computer not show that I have paid the deposit?

'You have to bring the receipt, you worthless piece of talking camel dung'.



Blogger samuraisam said...

I've never had the pleasure/pain of paying bills in Dubai; But i'll tell you how it is like in Australia.

I am with the commonwealth bank, I set up their internet banking service. I clicked the BPAY view thingy, added my power company, and my phone company; within 4 days they were added.

Then on the 14th of every month I get a new bill... online...

my mail auto checks itself and this email is in outlook that is titled...
BPAY View - new item received

then the body of the message says...
Dear NetBank customer,

You have received a new item from Optus Home Phone , Biller code: 3061.

So I log onto their website, and open a PDF copy of my bill; whereupon I discover 150$ worth of calls made by my brother to sex lines, and another 150$ to his extra special girlfriend in Dubai.

I click a few buttons, choose which account to take the money from, press a button, press confirm.

and it's done.

No more than 5 minutes of my time.


5:16 pm  
Blogger Herlock Sholmes said...

Dear Sir,

I am Abdulla Abou Khaled, Manager for DEWA eastern zone. I have read with interest your complain and I would like to assure you that we take it very seriously. I am assuming that you did not read section 4 of your DEWA contract which states that you will not engage in any public display of negativity towards DEWA or any of our employees. Considering that your complaint was posted on an internet site, we are taking the view that you are in breach of contract. You are hereby advised that your electricity will be cut, your bank accounts frozen, your visa revoked and your etisalat serives suspended.

As for your complain, well, that incoherent rambling of ideas, please be aware that we take it very seriously and we would like you to eat shit and die.

Considering that we are the only provider of electricity and Water in the country we see no reason to be nice to our customers. If you disagree, please complain at this address:

We sincerley hope that you enjoyed the DEWA experience


PS: Isn't this the typical DEWA response?

6:15 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Herlock: ROTFLMAO!!! Yer a genius. I'll blogroll you when I can figure out where the thingy is.

6:37 pm  
Blogger Seabee said...

Mr Sholmes, I salute you!

Keefieboy, DEWA can fix all their problems the same way Etisalat have fixed theirs - today's papers tell me that they've done it by changing their logo, which apparently makes them 'customer-centric'.

7:21 pm  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Keefie - how are we supposed to pay this Municipality tax/charge?

Nothing has been added to my bill yet, though I renewed my contract a couple of months ago.

9:04 pm  
Blogger CG said...

This is all total fucking dubai ass shit crappy crap crap.

I bet it feels soooooooo good to be in such a high position...I mean imagine how powerful a clerk at DEWA must feel.

9:16 pm  
Anonymous Mme Cyn said...

Secret -- if you're a government employee, you don't pay it.

Keefie -- I had to snicker. I pay like you pay -- let it run to near 1k and then give them all my money at once on line. A while back I let the 1k slip by and was disconnected. I duly went to Garhoud like a good girl (but without a bill --mine too end up in the bin unopened) and was informed that I was not one of their customers. They had no record of me. Mind you, they'd been supplying me with power for about 7 years, but the gormless bint at the DEWhat? office couldn't find me on the data base. Insisted I didn't exist. Was I sure I lived in Dubai? I finally going back home and getting the DEWA number off the door, but then had to call the housing officer at work to straighten out the mess. Sigh.

9:19 pm  
Blogger trailingspouse said...

Exactly how many hundreds of thousands of people have to live further out than Interchange 2 for DEWA, Etisalat & Emirates Post to recognize our existence? For god's sake, there's not even a mail box out here.

1:35 pm  
Blogger Seabee said...

The lady who sold me stamps at Ibn Battuta Mall told me the nearest mail box is Jebel would be funny if...

5:04 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Seabee: FYI, there's one outside the Choithram's in Jebel Ali Village.

5:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading this stuff is hilarious keefi you have dome ur self proud..
been reading secret for a bit and had almost forgotten about yours...
been aaway from the badlands for over 6 months and it is amazing how nearly everything can become such a trauma in the sand lands
you have to admire the vision of the place it is the follow through that is lacking....great place but what will happen when the water is turned off it will revert back to sand dunes, now that would be a sight.

3:05 am  

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