Over the past three weeks, we have received numerous complaints from Doha residents that Karwa drivers are not using their meters, and instead charging arbitrary rates to unsuspecting customers.
Yesterday, I caught a cab from City Center mall to Education City, a fare that normally costs QR25-QR30, depending on traffic. But the driver’s meter was “broken,” and he tried to charge me QR50.
I paid him half the amount and demanded to know what was up. He said he was new to Qatar and this was the rate another driver had told him to charge.
Other victims abound.
In a recent blog post, Duncan Davidson, who is new to Qatar, said:
Riding in taxis here has been a learning process. Often, the taxi driver won’t start the meter and instead wants to negotiate prices. Wait till the end of the ride, and the prices are super high—a perfect trap for jet-lagged outsiders who don’t yet know the rules of the game.
Negotiate up front, and you’ll do better. But in my experience so far, even that is often far higher than you’d pay on the meter. At that point, you’d just as well pay for an arranged car at your hotel.
And on Twitter, residents say:
Today I got ripped off by both my karwa `official taxi` driver and a delivery boy. Honesty thrives here #Doha
— Beckie(@thebeckie) April 3, 2012
— vani saraswathi (@vanish_forever) March 28, 2012
— Chris Dobison (@TheGeordieExpat) April 8, 2012
@dohanews In third Karwa in a row where the driver has said “You need meter, or no meter ok?” Wondering why..
— omar chatriwala (@omarc) March 25, 2012
Mowasalat, the transportation company that operates Karwa taxis, has said it will investigate any and all complaints and deal with the offending drivers “immediately.”
Depending on the driver’s track record, that means either warning, fining, suspending or firing him, an official told Doha News.
Meanwhile, residents can protect themselves from being overcharged by making sure the meter is running during the ride.
If it isn’t, your trip is free – though understand that many of these drivers work on commission.
Is anyone else experiencing Karwa troubles?
Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala