Recently I met a friend for lunch and she seemed visibly upset. This must be pretty regular occurrence for you Shane you may be thinking, but no, she reported that a ring she had gotten from her mother had gone missing in her apartment. It wasn’t particularly valuable, but it had a lot of sentimental value, she said. What had changed this week? Where did you see it last? All the usual unhelpful questions. All that was different was she had booked a different cleaner, as her regular one as on holiday that week. As the penny dropped, she looked shocked and an awkward call was made to the company involved. While I’m not 100 percent sure what happened to the cleaner, the ring was never retrieved.
This must be highly unusual you might say, especially as Dubai appears to have virtually zero petty crime, with people leaving doors and windows unlocked all the time and purses and bags going untouched in nightclubs, buses and offices across the city.
So is it a worrying trend that another friend told me this week that she received a letter from her cleaning company which included a disclaimer she was asked to sign. The form stated that it is the responsibility of the customer hiring the cleaner to store their valuables away safely before staff arrive and if they leave them out unattended or unsecured the company cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft while its staff are on the premise.
It raises two issues: Do people really leave their valuables lying around when they know a cleaner – a stranger – is coming around to their house? You wouldn’t do that in the UK or US or when you stay in a hotel so why in Dubai? And is petty crime slowly on the rise or is this just a company covering its back?
The company in question had obviously suffered a complaint or legal fallout with a client who had taken action to retrieve their lost or stolen items and was forced to take such drastic action and ask all customers to sign a disclaimer.
“I did hear of someone years ago who had lots of clothes stolen and when she complained the agency just fired the maid responsible. As she said, it was the irreplaceable clothes she had bought abroad that she wanted back,” a friend told me just now when I sent her this article for her opinion.
Is there a way around this issue? Does bringing legal papers into the equation just instigate suspicion between the customer and the cleaning staff that did not previously exist?