All throughout my life I have filled up numerous forms, stood in long queues, was at the receiving end of bad service etc etc etc …..but applying for the Emirates ID has been by far the worst experience till date. Here is my sad story….
23rd December 2010
When the media started reports of the 31st December deadline for the Emirates ID, a lot of people panicked and thronged the typing centers to apply for their Emirates ID. I was one of them. Early morning, I stood in a line for 1 hour just to deposit my passport for the form to be filled. After paying the amount required, I was told to come in the evening to collect the form & passport, which I did. Now I would await the SMS from the authorities with an appointment date.
31st January 2011
I get a SMS with an appointment scheduled for 30th January at 8 pm!! I desperately felt the need of a time machine to turn back time.
I called the number in the SMS to change the appointment date but the automated message played for around 5 mins. I called again after some time but again the same thing.
I registered a complaint on their website.
1st Feb 2011
No news yet on the complaint nor even an acknowledgement. I tried calling again and this time held on for around 10 mins!! Still their ‘representatives’ were busy. Then I called the 600 number but they expressed their inability to help and informed me that that I HAVE to call that center number to change the appointment.
2nd Feb 2011
No news yet from our ‘busy’ friends. I try calling again but again they are busy. I give up.
3rd Feb 2011
Finally I get a SMS ‘We apologize for the inconvenience. A new appointment will be sent within a week’
14th Feb 2011
A get a SMS for an appointment on 17th Feb, even though it is declared a holiday. They realized their mistake by evening and I got a call & a SMS with a new appointment for 21st Feb.
21st Feb 2011
I head to the registration center in Rashdiya at the given time. There is a problem. I had filled up the form in December and in January I applied for a new passport. They inform me that I have to go back to the typing center & change the passport details, as the form had the old passport details. All they had to change in the form was the passport number & the passport expiry date. Just for that, I have to go back all the way. It’s hard to think that any system nowadays is not equipped to make these small changes.
I head back to the typing center in Deira who say they cannot make any amends and I’ll have to fill up a new form & pay the entire amount of AED 370 all over again!
Someone advises me to go to the Karama center & I thought I’d give it one last try. I explain the whole situation to the person at the reception, who surprisingly listens patiently. There are some good men after all. He speaks to his Boss and advises me that the process will take a long time and my file will be on hold for a while. I agree without any hesitation. So finally after going from Deira to Rashdiya to Deira to Karama in a span of 5 hours, the necessary formalities are done. The guy who took my fingerprints told me I will get the card in 2 months, while the guy at the reception earlier had said that I will have to come again to make my passport changes.
I’m quite confident that my ordeal is not ever yet.
July 2011 (don't remember the date)
I called the helpline and told them its been 6 months and I still havent got my card. The tele executive informs me that it is in the courier and will reach me soon.
6th September 2011
I call again and this time they tell me that the card is printed and will be dispatched soon. So I'm waiting for it.
I keep reading about fines imposed by the authorities for missed appointments, delayed applications etc etc..What about their delays? Who is fining them?
21st November 2011
Fed up of getting the same answers on phone, I decided to visit the registration centre in Karama. I explained the whole thing to the lady at the reception who replied "From February?? Too much time! ".... I am directed to customer service, who checks records and advises me that I'll get the card in 2 weeks. I try to politely tell her that I've been hearing '2 weeks' for the last 4 months !! I get advised that there is a problem with the barcode and it will be sorted out soon.... I get told again.... 2 weeks.
After a relaxing vacation back home, one visit to the Emirates ID 'Customer Service' was enough to screw my mind! Nobody still knows what the problem is I get told that a request has been sent to the authorities and they would call me once they get a reply.
No call as yet (nothing unexpected). So I decide to spoil my morning sleep again and remind them of their job as customer service. The status hasn't changed and they will 'get back to me'....Their attitude is summed up by this statement "Don't worry, there are a lot of people with this problem"...It's like a doctor telling a patient " Don't worry about your disease. Lot of people are suffering from it."
Out of frustration, I sent emails to all the leading newspapers in the UAE. Frankly, I wasn't expecting much.....at the most, I was expecting they would publish it in the 'Letters to the Editor' section. But a reporter from Gulf News, Mr. Binsal Abdul Kader (God bless him!) took it up with the Emirates ID authorities and the very same day he got a reply from them requesting for my application number. What I couldn't do in almost a year, he did it in a day! The power of media.
I receive a call from a senior officer, media & communication with an apology.....yes an apology! The delay was due to the fact that I had ticked 'new card' instead of 'renewal' in my application form. And it took them 1 year to notice that & sort it out !!!
I was promised that the card would be personally delivered to me on Sunday, 29th January and indeed it was!
FINALLY - it's over!
Sincere thanks to the Gulf News reporter. I cannot thank him enough and am looking for a nice gift to send over to him.
All is well that end well. :)