Construction Week Newsletter 4th December2004

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By  Eudore Chand Published  December 4, 2004

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|

Riding lesson

My 6-year old son and his ageless mother had been nagging me to buy him a motorised scooter. Those in the stone industry well know that persistence will wear out the hardest of substances; that perseverance will ultimately erode the indomitable. I was only human. After putting up a gallant fight for a couple of weeks, I capitulated. Do I strike a chord? I thought that, although I have lost the battle, let me at least try and limit the damage. Cleverly, I sidled my wife and son away from a globally branded toy store just across the street on the pretext of going for a drive. The next stop was a discount store where I knew things could be had for a bargain. I headed for the right aisle and voila! There it was. All shiny and sleek in construction, orange and black. Almost an exact Harley Davidson in a much smaller version. It could even do a fantastic 10 km/h. My son was hooked. He rushed off to jump astride the black saddle and gunned the motor. Seeing the child happy, I stopped all the various protestations that my wife was about to utter and the colourful descriptions she was about to voice describing my leanings towards thrift. I had heard them before – and like those who have known such experiences – had planned the moment. We trooped out with the shiny new motorised scooter. My son could not wait to reach home and try it out. He did. All evening. Next day, there was no school. A serious tradition was broken. The little one was the first to get up. He wanted daddy to take the ‘bike’ out to the play area. Next thing I heard was furious efforts to start the scooter. It just wouldn’t. I was pressed into the act. I got my screwdriver set out, got various covers and panels off the machine, pulled at various wires, poked around like any good doctor would with his patient – there just was no reviving this one. Not a spark. And, it did not even have paddles for cycling. I was probably the first customer at the discount store when it opened that day. Being first at the gate, I got a smile from the salesman, which soon disappeared when he heard that I had come to return the scooter and claimed a full refund. My politeness wore away against his stony refusals. His manager was approached. The storyline remained the same. “Sorry, but this is a discount store – goods once sold cannot be returned.” I went home defeated and listened to everything my wife had to say. When I heard German manufacturers at the Big 5 complain about shoddy products and cloning, copying, counterfeiting, producing fakes and general disregard for trade marks and intellectual rights, I could understand how they felt. They were victims of a different sort than I. They were producers and I was a user, but I understood the basic message that you could never beat quality. And, to buy quality, you have to pay a higher price – and that it is worth it in the end. The construction industry in the region and globally is no stranger to copied or shoddy products. It is a fact of business life. I have heard of heavy duty drills that can be used and then thrown away, such is the difference in price between them and branded goods, and the overall job still comes out cheaper than it would if the contractor had bought a branded, quality, certified product, which would have lasted. I can’t even begin to imagine what damage would be caused to the workers using such unreliable equipment. The situation becomes scarier if shoddy building materials start being applied in the construction of edifices where people live and work. The climate in the Gulf is not kind to buildings and if, on top of that, cheap and shoddy materials are used, one can only imagine the consequences. The life of that building would certainly be short. The GCC is now integrating at a faster rate. I think it is time that the bloc has a common policy towards counterfeits, fakes and other products that might present a danger to life and limb. The Gulf’s construction sector is in the global limelight. Let us show that it is second to none in quality. By the way, I am now a regular at the branded toy store across the street!||**||

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