I recently logged on to a portal dedicated to those of us who own an apartment in a building called Lakeshore, in JLT Dubai. While the building is generally well-maintained, we have recently had issues with the developer on air conditioning charges from 2009, hefty bills that were sprung on us a few months ago.
I wanted to see if there were any updates on the AC billing issue; it affected all owners and our association had taken up the matter with the developer. To my complete horror and shock, the outstanding amount was not AED 3,600 as on my last visit to the portal, but a mind numbingly large AED 1.36 CR (see below an image grab from the bill).
CR for us Indians is Crore; 1 Crore is 10 million and 1 AED is approximately 17 of our Rupees. Multiply the two together and the sum (Rs 230 million) is substantially more than my net worth! And all on account of maintenance for a silly little 1-bed apartment.
I called up the company in charge of maintenance. A youngster from the Philippines took the call, calmed me down, pulled out the bill on his computer, and confirmed my worst fears, “yes Sir, you are right, balance is AED 1.36 CR”, and to really rub it in he says, “what’s the problem, Mr. Rahul, why you are so upset”?
Upset was a mild word for my state of mind. An unpaid bill of 230 million, even in Indonesian Rupiah (approximately 10,000 to the dollar), is enough to induce a serious cardiac event. That something was wrong with the bill was clear to me, that it would be difficult to get the bill reversed even more so.
Thankfully for me, the issue got sorted out eventually. It was a case of mistaken understanding on my part. The CR in the bill meant ‘Credit’ and not ‘Crore’. So the company owed me AED 1.36!
Read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. We think in two ways – we jumps to conclusions (system 1 thinking) and we sometimes reason our way through (system 2 thinking). My brain had resorted to system 1 thinking, with potentially alarming consequences for me. System 1 thinking is intuitive and our brains are wired for it; system 2 thought processes came much later in evolution and are therefore much tougher for all of us.
Charlie Rose interviewing Daniel Kahneman.