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The Dangers Of Unsafe Lifts In Dubai

The Dangers Of Unsafe Lifts In Dubai

Fraudulent lift companies are risking lives in the UAE and costing the industry millions of dirhams, say industry insiders.

With Dubai’s property sector back on the rise, the emirate is beginning to attract several fraudulent companies in related industries, such as elevator operators, say industry insiders.

Up to one third of the 30-odd elevators companies across the UAE are imposters and cheat customers, according to Jamshed Elavia, director of Sharjah-based Gulf Elevators.

“Now that the property market has gone up, so it has again attracted fly-by-night operators to this market, who looking to make a quick buck and exit,” he said.

“We have noticed a lot of people getting cheated, especially people who are building their own villas for the first time,” he said.

With the UAE government giving grants to nationals to build their own houses, many of them, who are not traditionally in the real estate industry, are not aware of what is going on in the market.

According to Elavia, while some of these newly sprung-up companies scam customers into making initial payments and then disappear, others cheat clients into believing that the product is made in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, when it’s actually being made in a shed in Sharjah.

“In the UAE, there are some cheap companies with attractive names who use unbranded elevators sourced from unqualified firms in countries like China,” agreed Mohamed Iqbal, managing director, Toshiba Elevators and Escalators Middle East.

“These fraudulent companies sell their products 50 per cent cheaper than the branded elevators. They then receive the advance payment and after the materials delivery, get that payment too.

“But in case of short shipment, wrong supply or operational troubles, the companies here are unable to contact their overseas supplier and hence they just vanish,” he said.

These companies are able to con clients because there are no governmental regulations governing lift installations in villas, stated Elavia.

But installing these low-quality elevators can be highly hazardous for consumers, he warned.

“There have been problems here – the elevators that they install don’t come with certain safeties. In some cases, battery-operated rescue devices are not there. So if there is a power failure, there’s no way of removing the passengers who are stuck and they have to wait until a technician arrives,” he said.

“With these elevators, there is also always the risk of an electrical fire, if it’s wrongly wired or if the wires being used are not of proper insulation material,” he added.

Iqbal also advises caution: “Elevators are safety related equipment and at every stage, a quality check inspection is required. After it is handed over, fortnightly or monthly routine maintenance is a must and there must be an arrangement to attend breakdown calls in case of malfunction, stoppage of elevators or even the trapping of passengers inside.”

The main reason that customers fall prey to these operators is because of the low prices they offer.

According to Elavia, while an established lift operator charges around Dhs100,000 on average for a one-storey lift in a villa, the ‘fly-by-night’ firms charge around Dhs75,000.

Along with clients, established companies also lose millions of dirhams to these fraudulent firms, he stated.

The only solution is to build awareness among customers.

Elavia recommends that consumers follow four foolproof checkpoints – first, check the trade licence of company. Second, check when the firm was established – the longer, the better.

Third, ask the supplier for a certificate of origin for the elevator. And lastly, demand to see an earlier installation to confirm that the elevator looks like the one in the catalogue.

“In elevators, if clients get tempted by the sweet talk of unbranded elevators or non-reputed companies, it could be a very big mistake,” warned Toshiba’s Iqbal.

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