We arrived in Dubai at 05:30 hrs last Thursday morning. As we walked out the airplane door, the heat hit us like a freshly baked, warm rhubarb fart.
Because I wanted to remind myself exactly why I couldn’t wait to leave the Middle East, our first visit was to Tamweel, our mortgage company. You may recall that last October, the first statement of account we received in two years failed to reflect several payments. After arguing with the company for nine months, Tamweel graciously acknowledged that we made all our mortgage payments. Indeed, since they are in possession of 36 post-dated cheques, they can hardly claim otherwise – although this hasn’t stopped them so far.
Unfortunately, Tamweel could not retrospectively amend the payments and/or delay charges in their Accounting System, so they made random debit and credit entries here and there to make our statement look a bit better. Which is nice of them, but I would prefer a statement that isn’t comprised of randomly generated numbers.
The post-dated cheques covering three years of mortgage payments run out in October, so Tamweel wants us to submit more. Well, call me a bitch on a stick with an acute negativity complex, but I would like to know how Tamweel has calculated our ongoing monthly payments. Because according to past performance, I suspect that amount is also a randomly generated number, and not in a good way.
Despite spending an hour and a half explaining the history of our case to Usman, he never quite grasped the nature of the problem, so he took us to see Mohammed in Operations. Mohammed was in another building, down three levels, across a fiery chasm, through a labyrinth, a full body scan, two security doors, and a tunnel.
Mohammed had printed off our statement in yet another format, which he assured us we would love because it was ‘tremendously lovely’. I had high hopes for a man who described a spreadsheet as ‘tremendously lovely’ – perhaps not from the perspective of a wide range of social skills, but certainly with regard to explaining our statement. Mohammed started off promisingly:-
“So, this figure, it is the outstanding amount, you understand? And this figure here it is the fixed rent per month, you understand? And this it is the interest rate, you understand? So. You see. You take this, and remove the fixed rent, and apply the percentage, here, like this <flurry of digits> and divide by twelve, and you get the variable rent, which is this figure here- oh. Ah. Yes. No. I do not- I do not understand this, why this is not the figure.”
Him and me both. Perhaps, like us, Mohammed was confused by the fact that his tremendously lovely statement showed a different outstanding balance than the system-generated statement provided by Usman.
Mohammed told us that, when we took out a mortgage in September 2005, Tamweel had no accounting system, so they used Excel Spreadsheet to manage their clients’ accounts.
Although Mohammed provided a formula for calculating our monthly payments, it does not work on the figures in any of our statements. Although I am not that hot at mental arithmetic, I have a BSc in Applied Mathematics and an ability with a scientific calculator that has occasionally been described as ‘brilliant bordering on demonic’.
Three hours later, we left Tamweel, defeated; and they wiped our brains on the way out