Royal Breeze Handover Fiasco

At long last investors in Royal Breeze buildings 1 and 3 have received letters from Al Hamra Real Estate Development, confirming handover dates ranging from October to November. It seems that a management fee of about 10AED per sq ft is being applied (it is not clear if the car parking space is used in calculating the charge), and there is a one off water and electricity connection charge of 1200AED per KWA as well as a one off water meter refundable deposit of 1000AED. In addition, some owners are being asked to pay a penalty charge as well.

Owners are advised to carefully read their contracts to check if Al Hmara Real Estates is delivering the ‘product’ to specification, as in our view the buildings and infrastructure are far from complete, and the handover process is a fiasco designed by Al Hamra Estates to protect themselves from legal action by unsatisfied owners. Why else would Al Hamra Real Estates rush to handover units that are incomplete, with roads and communal facilities such as a beach area and gym either non-existent or not ready?

In keeping with their track record of abysmal customer service and lack of communication with investors, Al Hamra Real Estates has provided no information on the burning issue of the promised beach for owners, no information on what white goods (or other furniture) will be supplied, no information on the readiness of the infrastructure (such as roads, pools and gym), no photos have been provided, and no help for the purchase of furniture and equipment. It would seem that the main aim seems is to rush (maybe even bully) owners into accepting units that are far from ready with a lack of infrastructure and facilities.

We earnestly hope to be proven wrong in our assessment of the handover fiasco; let’s wait to hear from owners who are about take possession of their units. In the meanwhile we can only ask Al Hamra Real Estates not treat their customers as pieces on a chessboard, be honest and transparent with us and give us excellent customer service and support in this exciting time of taking possession of our units.

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Beach Access Issue

Letter to Al Hamra Estates, 20/6/2009

Dear Mr Mathew,

Following on from your earlier replies and our telephone conversation on 17th January 2009, we are very keen to continue with our dialogue with Al Hamra Estates (AHE) in order to stay abreast of developments and construction progress. We hope that our earlier request for a regular bi-monthly construction update for RB investors is being given serious consideration by AHE.

We are appreciative that you personally acknowledged the importance of good customer service for AHE, and were encouraged by your refreshing willingness to listen to our concerns regarding the development. We were also pleased with your plans to install cameras on the site to allow investors get some idea of construction progress.

The purchase of our apartment(s) was heavily influenced by assurances in all RB sales and publicity literature that the beach area in front of the RB buildings was to be accessible for the use of RB residents (stated or implied). Investors were clearly led to believe that they were buying into the Al Hamra Village resort package, which included facilities such as beach access, gym, and swimming facilities at no additional cost. Here, for example is what Global Estates (who are selling RB units) have to say on their current website

“It’s not just any beach – it’s your beach. As a resident of The Royal Breeze you’ll be privileged to enjoy access to one of the last remaining private beaches in all of the Emirates. Whether it’s a morning dip, an afternoon sunbathe, or a romantic sunset stroll, you just walk out your gate and there you are. You’re surrounded by miles of ivory-white sand, brushed by balmy breezes from the Arabian Gulf and tempted by its clear, warm waters.

At the Royal Breeze, you will enjoy a private beach on the Arabian Gulf, a links-style championship golf course, private marina, onsite destination shopping mall and an onsite 7-star resort hotel.” http://www.royalbreeze.com/

In various communications, AHE has also confirmed that RB residents will have the use of an extensive and exclusive beach area, though no exact details have been provided to date. Despite many requests for clarification, it is extremely upsetting and worrying to learn that the question of the beach area for the use of Royal Breeze residents remains unresolved. It is our understanding that AHE is considering purchasing a section of the beach in front of the RB buildings for the exclusive use of RB residents; we have also been advised that a section of the beach area at the base of Dana Island may be reserved for RB residents.

Given that beach access (and facilities) is such an essential component of the package and lifestyle we purchased from AHE, and given the uncertainty of the Dana Island project, can you please confirm that a) RB residents will have use of an private beach area, and b) provide details of the location of this dedicated beach area. It is disappointing that whilst many of us have now paid up to 70% of the purchase price and the project is now over three years into the launch, no concrete information on details of the beach area have been provided.

We are, however confident that AHE will not let us down, and fully intends to deliver the promised resort with all the promised facilities, including the beach area for the RB. It seems inconceivable that residents can be denied beach access in after all what a 5 star beach resort. We are heartened by the many positive comments from owners whose Marina apartments have been (or are currently being) handed over. To avoid further investor worry and misunderstanding we request that you confirm the existence of a beach area for RB residents as a matter of urgency.

The Al Hamra Investors Group remains committed to playing it’s part in ensuring the success of the project, and will do all it can to promote the resort. We very much hope we can avoid the need to contact the RAK authorities if the beach area were not to be provided.

There are other questions / points on which we would like more information, and would appreciated any updates on the following:

  • What is the current position of the Dana Island project?
  • A detailed construction progress report on RB, with photos
  • What is the status of proposed webcam on RB site?
  • Is expected completion date for the RB Dec 2009 – Jun 2010 still valid?
  • Please provide further details of standard of finish, fixtures and fittings, maintenance charges, etc
  • What health / fitness facilities (such as sauna and fitness equipment) will be available for the use of RB residents?
  • Please give an update on the entitlement to resident visas (as stated in the original contract)
  • Will RB residents have access to any part of the golf course, and on what basis?
  • Will RB residents be able to avail from the facilities of the Al Hamra Fort hotel? If there is a cost involved, please give details?
  • Please provide further info about the proposed construction of the project by HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qassimi opposite the Marina development

As always, we would like to re-iterate that we want to maintain constructive dialogue with AHE, and will always work with you to achieve a resort that we can all be proud of, be happy with, and enjoy living at.

Looking forward to your reply.

The Value of Customer Service

Investors from across the globe bought into the dream that was to be the ‘Al Hamra Village ‘

“… an exclusive residential and leisure resort…… a picturesque sight that is set around salt water lagoons, a championship golf course and its own marina…. allows property owners a chance to redefine the meaning of luxury living.” – www.alhamravillage.com website

We, the investors took the leap and put our faith in Al Hamra Estates LLC to deliver the dream. Needless to say, we have kept our end of the bargain by making payments on time according to the payment schedule.

But what about the developer, have they kept their end of the bargain? The short answer is that there is growing unease amongst investors, a growing realisation that we may have been duped by slick marketing. Sadly, most investors are now getting disillusioned and are very unhappy with Al Hamra Estates’ track record of customer service and intent to deliver the project on time and to specification.

It might be instructive if Al Hamra were to take note of some basic lessons on the value of customer service (taken from Amazines.com, by Murad Ali):

Lesson 1: “Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what you client or customer gets out of it” – Peter Drucker.

Large corporations sometimes start believing that they are more important than the customer. Their processes, procedures and even their name become the standard way of doing things and customers who don’t fit within these policies are just out of luck. Sprint, as well as other businesses, should continually focus on the value within their product or service. If the customer isn’t getting as much value as they are paying for then they will likely go somewhere else.

Lesson #2: “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Each time Sprint, or a business, annoys a customer there is a chance that the customer will run out with their anger and post negative messages throughout the internet, tell their friends at work and do the company harm. Even though the situation is annoying the customer has that right because they are paying for a service and they are unhappy with that service. Therefore, it is necessary to treat your customers with the highest level of flexibility and respect.

Lesson #3: “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” – Donald Porter

There is no perfect service in the world today. Therefore, there will come times when mistakes will happen, a product will have a defect or there will be other issues that are not to the customers’ satisfaction. When these mistakes happen the customer calls in and is giving Sprint, or the business in question, the chance to actually solve their problem. In many cases the customer is being benevolent by giving the company this chance instead of dropping them all together. If the company can’t fix this problem, doesn’t care about this problem and treats the customer as though he or she is a nuisance they may end up losing that customer.

Lesson #4: “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” – Tony Alessandra

A company may have a great product or service and this is what attracts people. However, once people have purchased that product or service the company needs to show them that their service is adding value, that they are trying to solve problems and they are a partner in the person’s success. It is the service that makes your company or service different from all the other high quality and superb products available on the market.