Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Cleared

Salik is a joy to the hearts of many Dubai residents. There are few things that make me happier than passing under that smashing RFID-tabulous gate and hearing the sound of another four dirhams going 'ching' into the giant cash register that is Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority, or RTA. It makes me happy.

Recently I started to get text messages telling me that my Salik balance was low. And then I realised that I really had to do something about it: I was in danger of triggering... gasp... violations. So I went online to try and pay.

The RTA website is a bit of a mess, if I'm honest. It hasn't really been updated since they launched the whole Salik scheme and much of its functionality remains 'under construction'. Online payment doesn't work if you use Firefox, either - only IE is supported. Which is a little Victorian if you ask me.

So I loaded (with a shudder) Explorer and got on with making my payment. It's enabled through the Dubai e-Government 'Epay' site and the mechanism is a little, well, Victorian. Worse, my attempt to pay 'em Dhs 250 (good for a while, about 62 'chings') bombed out: the transaction failed. I tried again, keying my card details in very, very carefully. Failed again. And then I noticed an error message:

“Server was unable to process request. ---> uspEPayResponseUpd: OKCannot insert the value NULL into column 'dtUpdTime', table 'dbDTS.dbo.tbEPayTrxn'; column does not allow nulls. UPDATE fails.”

This didn't look good. I left it a while and tried again, same error message. Three attempts, three failed transactions. I called 'em, but they won't do credit card transactions over the 'phone, which struck me as a little, well, Victorian.

You know what's coming next, don't you? I logged on to the Salik website next day to see how much trouble I was in with those potential violations and... ta da!!!! I've got Dhs750 credit on my Salik tag.

The RTA call center won't process a refund because it's not their policy and anyway it's epay I have to talk to and not them and is there anything else I can do to help you?

The Dubai government helpline ('Dial one to stick knives in your head, dial two to eat lightbulbs, dial three to speak to a human being and solve your problem. Thank you for dialling three. Sorry, nobody's answering that line. Dial one...') says I should go to the RTA because they took my money. Great.

Having lost the plot with both, both have agreed to 'escalate' the complaint to 'the concerned department'. This has been followed by a long silence, but I'm not giving up. Even if it takes me as long as 187 crossings of Salik to sort it out...

7 comments:

the real nick said...

Online payment my foot.

Go to any Enoc petrol station and hand over a wad of cash, pay your DEWA bills as well and get some ciggies and chewings gum.

Beat that, techno guy!

alexander... said...

Sigh.

Luddite.

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

"The Dubai government helpline ('Dial one to stick knives in your head, dial two to eat lightbulbs, dial three to speak to a human being and solve your problem. Thank you for dialling three. Sorry, nobody's answering that line. Dial one...')"

LOL! I just read another blogger's experience in which the tried to withdrawl their last 500 dirhams, only they didn't receive it. Upon calling the back they were 500 dirhams down. In the past I was more of a cash person in the UAE...it was just over 10 years ago that the banks all crashed, and non-Emiratis lost ALL their money. I was very cautious for a long time about placing my earnings into a bank. Paid for almost everything w/ cash or w/ a credit card from home. I think they aren't ready for electronic bill pay-no one is in charge of supporting those services.

Keefieboy said...

The error you describe looks like a crappy bit of validation (or lack thereof) - a field in the database is expecting a value, but the form is allowing you to submit it with a NULL value. Not good at all.

I've just been attempting to buy some rail tickets in the UK: all cool and groovy right up until the point where it demands my UK postcode so it can look up my address for me (because you can't expect punters to be able to input their address themselves). I wouldn't mind if they had a notice that said 'this website doesn't work for foreign divvils', but it doesn't. In fact the next field is a dropdown list of every country on the planet. Stupidity of the highest order.

alexander... said...

KB: It's crap, it's sloppy and it's irritating. But that's the whole website in a nutshell.

It's amazing that somewhere like Dubai is so far behind in implementing smart, transactional web-based sites. e-government has been all about the front end pretty stuff and little about getting it right.

There's a lovely Arabic word... 'bouya' - painting the office just before the boss arrives so that he sees what a lovely, well-organised office you run...

RTA website at top level - nice. Drill down one millimetre - gnarly...

Dubai Sunshine said...

Look at the bright side...With the new Salik gates that are being installed, you'll get rid of that Dhs 750 much faster...

Mars said...

if you have a dubai-based bank account, like emirates group, you can pay online through their website or atms.

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