Why I don’t shop in Bahrain anymore

It has been a long time since I visited any of the big shopping malls in Bahrain. And today I was reminded once again why I haven’t done so all this time. You see, I happen to travel a lot and get informed on the latest fashion, products and/or prices. I always look for the best quality and price and I value customer service relationships a great deal. I talk with shops’ representatives all around the world and I have gained their trust and respect as they have gained mine. Continue reading “Why I don’t shop in Bahrain anymore”

VIVA icflix !!!

Do you enjoy watching movies? Do you have a favorite show which you wouldn’t miss at any cost? Are you a  Bollywood fan or a Jazwood enthusiast? Well, I have good news for all of you!

VIVA-BAHRAIN_Facebook

VIVA Bahrain, the Kingdom’s most innovative telecom provider, has partnered with icflix, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading online streaming service, to bring us the ultimate digital experience: access to unlimited premium movies, TV shows, cartoons and documentaries, from literally ANYWHERE and for only 3 BD per month!
Yes, you read right. 3 BD per month! That’s even less than the cost of ONE ticket to cinema! Plus, with your icflix subscription you can be granted access on up to FIVE different devices! mmm.. that means like getting… five tickets for the price of one for as many movies, shows, cartoons you wish in a month!
If you are a VIVA user like myself, here’s how you can grab this amazing offer:
You’re all set!
Once your subscription is activated, you will be granted immediate access to a wide selection of Jazwood, Hollywood and Bollywood content as well as to kids’ award winning programs which can be played on up to five assigned devices, so you can watch your favorite movies or shows from your smartphone, tablet, computer or smart TV anytime, anywhere. Arabic, French and English audio or subtitles are available on option so you can get the most out of your  icflix  subscription. The 3 BD fee is charged directly on your post-paid bill or prepaid credit with VIVA so you can enjoy watching without worrying about anything, plus your first month is FREE!!
So what are you waiting for? Go for it as I did! My kids already watch their favorite show from their iPads and they love it!
VIVA icflix!

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Lucky You

 The following post is an old article of mine I really enjoy reading even today. It has been edited and all names and evidence have been removed to make sense to you today. And yes, it’s a true story. 🙂 
gladstone1You would have thought that in a very small country – like the one I live in –  your chances of winning in competitions, contests or any other event that promises “big prizes” to the contestants are higher than anywhere else, taking into consideration the population statistics.
If you pay attention to the signboards on the road you will be overwhelmed by the big banners of banks, companies, shopping malls, supermarkets advertising their competition rewards to their potential clientele: “Win a House”, Two Convertible Cars for our Big Winners”, “buy this and get your Brand New Ipad”. Then it’s the SMS messages that usually wake you up at one o’clock in the morning on this “Amazing Competition” or that “Answer our Question and Fly to Hawaii” alluring you to take part in a treasure hunt. And you fall for it. But you haven’t seen anyone from your close circle getting anything more than minor gifts and that is if it ever happens, usually once in a blue moon and then all the family cheers on the unexpected luck’s strike that made you win that 10 dinar coffee maker that usually breaks after a couple of uses.
Time after time that you try and try and enter competitions and with no significant wins you really wonder if your luck sucks or whether you are doing something wrong. It just can’t be that some colleague brags about how he won twice a Lexus car not to mention the cash rewards pouring in from time to time, while you haven’t seen a cent out of all these coupons you keep completing with your details… details which the companies use over and over to overflow you with SMS and email communication, sometimes even at 1 o’clock past midnight.
Well think twice. Things are not as they seem and maybe after all there is nothing wrong with your luck but rather with who you know.
I randomly chose a Bank in my city to make a little research on their super prizes winners’ list. The bank had been promoting (lets call it) the “Super” awards for a few years now, where supposedly the “Super” bank account holders automatically get 1 ticket per 50 dinars deposited in their accounts and get eligible to enter for the prize draws held weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly… In fact they advertise their monthly award as “salary for life” where one winner receives 250,000 dinars. And this is separately from the weekly draws with several winners of 25,000 dinars and 1,000 each.. And that’s a lot of money…
So here is what I discovered: The same winners over and over and over again as if they have signed a contract with the Muse of Luck or better.. they have an agreement with the Bank, or are they Donald Duck’s cousin Gladstone and I don’t know?
I was very interested in knowing who these lucky people really are and how they do it. Did a magic wand simply turned them into princes and princesses of luck? I doubt it. Thinking about it, I get the impression that the bank “owes” them or better “grants” them this kind of money.
Then you have all these VERY LUCKY PEOPLE (ironically) WINNING IN THE SAME DRAW TWICE!! WHAT A JACKPOT!
And then you find there is inconsistency between the bank’s website winners’ list and the local newspaper’s published one. Those who won twice in the same draw are only mentioned once in the newspaper. Keep quiet media.. it must have only been a “typo”. But it wasn’t.
Digging further you bump on to another draw of two persons with the same surname and initials – what seems to be brothers – winning BD 25,000 each in a single spin of “luck”. I think we made our point, no need to further prove there is something fishy in the story.
Interestingly enough, each draw which is held at the bank’s headquarters is “supervised” by a big company of external auditors and in the presence of bank officials AND state officials to certify “legitimacy”. How come no one has ever noticed that the process keeps rewarding the same people over and over and over? Strange..
“The more you save the more you win!” you will see in the Bank’s website. Utterly Wrong. It should rather be: “The more you have the more you win”. The competition scheme does not reward customer loyalty but wealth instead.
The bank will claim that the more you “save” the more raffle tickets you get, thus the more chances you have in winning their competition.
From the account holder’s point of view it looks like a good incentive to start saving money, although it makes you feel like when you were a little kid and mom and dad were preaching on the importance of economizing pushing you to drop your money pocket in the piggy bank when what you really wanted was to spend that money for a fancy toy.
However, from the bank’s point of view it’s superb! Imagine all this money in their safes… Where does it go? Does it just sit there? Money makes the world go round, and money is a bank’s major product. Banks sell money. That is YOUR money they sell. So your money is either invested or given to someone else as a loan where the bank of course will get its share from the lender. So banks use YOUR money to get THEIR money doubled or tripled and so on and so on. If a bank is able to award each month 750,000 BD in cash prizes to their customers, imagine the profits of this bank.
But wait a minute… Supposedly the bank should award all the people who entrust their fortune to them, sort of a thank you. Right? Interest rates are peanuts today and therefore here comes the “competition”.
Needless to say, the concept of the specific competition doesn’t look fair. Imagine someone having 1,000,000 BD deposited in his bank account that will bring him in each draw.. hmmmm 20,000 raffle tickets, whereas someone with 1,000 BD in the account will only get 20 tickets… Who has the more chances in winning this competition? Is this fair? Rewarding the wealthy? ?? I don’t’ think it would make any much difference if you had given the wealthy that extra 1000!
In the bank’s website there is a disclaimer: “In order to provide a balanced participation structure in the draw, maximum draw chances per customer is capped at 10,000 chances”
Let me laugh out loud here. It’s obvious you can overrule that. If I were rich would I only hold ONE account? What if I had 5 children? I would create 5 accounts and one for my wife. And let that poor Asian expat dream of winning with the 500 dinars he has saved over the last decade… (here goes the satanic laughter).
Then again, shouldn’t there be a clause like i.e. once you win an amount you are not allowed to reenter the competition for an x period of time so you could give other people the chance of winning too? That would keep all clients satisfied in one way or another if we finally get to believe that the system they have to process the draw “randomly” and “by chance” selects the winners, which certainly seems not to be the case.
It can’t get any clearer than that and companies, organizations, even governmental entities do it all the time: reserve the best for themselves and their courtyard. And while I want to believe that we live in meritocracy, while I want to believe that luck is blind and might hit me as well, while I want to dream on my little cloud that I will be spared the chance to try my luck, nepotism and cronyism seem to invade even in my DREAMLAND, destroy every dream I have, destroy my chances, demolish my luck.
Above all what I really hate more is how shamelessly and ruthlessly they just make fun of me right in front of my face. But now I know them. And this time it is me who won’t be sparing them.

hr

Thank you’s that bring a smile

IMG_5735

Online shopping has the element of surprise. And anticipation. It’s not that you don’t know what you ordered (although sometimes this might also be the case..) but if you WILL receive WHAT you ordered. Is it going to be how you expected it to be? Will it arrive on time? Will it finally fit you? How will the packaging be? It’s like a mystery gift (sort of a Farmville feature) of which you know the contents, you know you paid for it (your credit card statement is the proof) yet you feel the same level of excitement as you would feel if you’d open an actual surprise gift or if someone else had paid for it. In my opinion this is why more and more people are shopping online except for the obvious reasons (i.e. to find sold out elsewhere items, for the convenience of not having to wait in check out lines, low prices during sales).
Packaging might tell a lot about a shop and how they value their goods and your opinion as a customer, but don’t judge a shipment from its outer normal post box with all the customs papers, tape and marks.  This is to protect the goods which decent online shops place in a second cute box wrapped or ribboned so to give you the joy of unwrapping.
Most online shops, in order to make up for the absence of a personal contact with their customers and to reward their courage for buying online without actually having seen the product, they offer little surprises along with the goods. Discount vouchers are always welcome and I have received many in the past from Abercrombie and Juicy Couture. Samples of perfumes or totes are great and can come of use in a fashionable way, especially if they have Victoria’s Secret logo. But my magic moment is when I open the box to check my treasure and find a thank you card. Preferably a hand-written one. I am old-fashioned and this little trick shops are using to make the online shopping experience more personal, is the one that does wonders for me. And it brings me a smile.
So here are my top 3 thank you cards from online shops. I would include one thank you note I received from HEX who make cases for MacBooks, iPhones, iPods and iPads but unfortunately after I moved to my new house I can’t find it. The reason why I was pleasantly surprised from this thank you note was that HEX is more of a gadget shop where you’d expect a “cold” transaction, yet not only did they send a handwritten thank you, they also send a small gift to show their appreciation for our business. It didn’t matter to them that my order was less than 15 USD! That means generosity and that every customer matters to them. Check out their amazing cases by clicking here.

No. 3

Juicy Couture prefers to keep it simple and straight with a printed Thank You in gold background.

Image 4

No. 2

Tessabit sent me a beautiful postcard from Lago di Como of the past… I enjoyed my purchase which came in a black signature box beautifully wrapped in the shop’s ribbon as much as this little surprise thank you which I kept.  🙂  So romantic! I like especially this one as it brings me memories of my high-school pen-pals.

Image 2

Image 3

No. 1

Last but not least the surprise of this card from Département Féminin was amazing for it tricked me since the first minute I opened my box: A beautiful rosy-musky perfume filled the air. I couldn’t figure out where it came from until I saw an envelope which I brought close to my nose… This eureka moment made me open the envelope first and then check for the box’s contents! Needless to say I kept the card in my scarves’ drawer… As for my shopping experience… incroyable! Will tell you all about Département Féminin  on my next post.. In the meantime MERCI BEAUCOUP!

IMG_5735

IMG_5737

Have you ever received a special Thank You Card that brought a smile on your face? Feel free to share it with us.