The number of customer complaints about Karwa taxi drivers regarding refused journeys and unmetered charges at popular taxi stands across Doha are on the rise, according to a report in today’s Qatar Tribune.
Citing an anonymous Mowasalat employee, the newspaper states that the company is logging some 20 complaints a day on weekends, and 10 per weekday. The report doesn’t include previous complaint rates, but states that these numbers represent a significant increase for the government-owned cab firm.
No specific stands were named and shamed, but the Tribune lists the company’s main ranks to catch a taxi as City Center Mall, Lulu Hypermarket, Al Asmakh Mall (Centrepoint) and Hyatt Plaza.
According to the employee, the most common complaints included “overpriced rates and unmetered charges, as well as a refusal to take customers to certain locations or taking more than one client and fully charging each.”
The staff member goes on to explain why some drivers refuse to accept a fare:
“It is either because they will have to drive through a congested route to reach the destination, or because the trip is too short to make a certain amount of profit.”
Speaking to Doha News, an official from Mowasalat explained the complaint process: Customers can lodge their complaints in person (at the taxi stand), or on the phone.
Following this, a report would be sent to management, who may see fit to write a written warning or issue a fine, which will be deducted from the driver’s salary. The Tribune reports that this is usually no higher than QR150.
Earlier this year, journalist Jessica Davey-Quantick explained in a guest post why taxi drivers here may be motivated to be dishonest. She argued that the drivers in Qatar aren’t malicious, but merely desperate to make enough money to pay for the daily cost of their cars, which many of them have to rent from their companies.
Although some drivers earn a salary of around QR250 a day, most work on commission, and have to pay Mowasalat to rent their cars, Quantick found. The company also expects many to meet a daily quota of QR450. She writes:
“In order to make QR450 a day, they’d have to make QR41 per hour. An analysis of taxi receipts shows that the average taxi fare in Qatar is QR20, with each trip taking approximately 30 minutes. To reach the company’s estimated daily earnings, they would have to have one trip every half hour for their entire 11-hour shift, with no breaks and no lulls between passengers, lower fares, or longer trips.”
Taxi fleet expansion
The city’s many taxi customers have been airing their grievances about the Karwa taxi service and its franchisees Al Million and Al Ijarah for some time now, and reporting arguments with taxi drivers, some of which have gotten ugly.
To address these concerns, national transport regulator Mowasalat has pledged to expand its car numbers significantly to ease the pressure on the current fleet, with Transport Minister Jassim Seif Al Sulaiti announcing yesterday that the current Karwa fleet of 2,500 taxis is set to double by 2018, as will its current fleet of 3,000 buses.
Expansion plans suffered a temporary setback this summer, when the planned introduction of a third franchisee, Petro Qatar, was canceled due to licensing issues.
Mowasalat has not yet responded to a request for comment.
What is needed is for taxi companies to give more drivers radio-links to the despatching centre. As it stands (as I understand it), only salaried drivers have radios – and they make up a tiny proportion of the total number of cabs (the remainder having to rent their cars daily, and therefore having to make xxxQAR a day to cover costs before making any actual money).
As a result, there are so few cabs available when you phone up that there may not be a car available for six hours! In no other city on the planet does this happen! With 2,500 taxis, in a small city like Doha, you should be able to call up and get a taxi to pick you up from your location in a maximum of 20 minutes.
This situation forces the non-salaried (non-radio-linked) drivers into fierce competition at the country’s four taxi stands. If they all had radios, and were centrally despatched, each driver would end up with more customers, and customers would end up with a greatly enhanced service.
It is the convenience of private drivers (who cost more, and are probably unlicensed) that leads to their proliferation, and ever more pressure on the Mowasalat drivers.
There are two types of taxis:
Airport taxis where the driver gets a monthly salary.
Other taxis operate on a daily basis where the driver is required to pay 270 per day whether he makes it on that day or not.
Whats needed is more taxis and taxi stops as most of taxis are concentrated in malls.
I thought salaried drivers were mostly the newer drivers on probation, and once they’re comfortable with the job, they move to the rental system. At least that makes sense why most new Karwa taxi drivers are always calm and chit-chatty.
I just boycott Karwa.
First, they drive like crazy because they have to make that amount of money, otherwise they earn nothing for the day. I don’t blame the driver, I blame the company that exploits the drivers. But I want to be safe, so I don’t want to get nervous when I jump on a taxi because the driver has to run fast. Second, their taxis are often dirty and smelly. What kind of service is that?
Third, there is a better company called Cabz that has a flat rate to airport, no matter where you are in Doha. They also have the map on computer, so they never get lost and so far they are a better service. Boycott Karwa.
Yes but every other “cab” is basically a limousine, i.e., only available by booking (Quick Pick, Fox, etc.). Mowasalat’s taxi franchises (including Karwa) are available in most city hotspots, malls, city centres, what have you.
For a good number of Qatar’s residents, we simply don’t have an option. Karwa really doesn’t have a competitor and therefore it will continue to be miserable. Just this morning I read a report that Qatar has the most expensive SMS and internet data tariff in the GCC (coincidentally, quite horrible too), all because Ooredoo doesn’t really have a proper competitor.
you’re right. No competition, no better service. In everything. This is the consequence of the monopoly.
However, I have even used Cabz from the airport, by booking a ride with them before leaving Doha for the weekend. It worked perfectly. Where possible, you can still boycott!
The rate per day that driver has to pay is too high as compared to Saudi Arabia where there are many more passengers than here. In Saudi Arabia the standard rate for Hyundai Elantra is SAR140 and it goes to around SAR190 depending on make and model of car such as new model Camry.
Plus the population there is big so there is a lot of business.
Is it true that there’s only one system in UAE for taxi drivers? The system there is the cab driver are paid a monthly salary plus commission if they reach a given quota. I was told by a cabbie that Al Ijarah pay their drivers a monthly salary plus a percentage of their monthly fare if they reach a given quota. That’s a more practical and fair system than making the drivers rent the taxi for a day.
Thank God I drive my own car 😀
And I am guessing you also own more than one car. Lucky you. 🙂
I never seen able to keep track on how many cars I own, or how many people work at my house.
Must be hell, just trying to keep track?
Their are lots of unotherised private taxies…Karwa drivers this mentality will help them.
Has any body, who complain about the company and sympathize on the drivers, given an extra 10QR to the driver? Its easy to blame, but difficult to change ourselves.
Its difficult to give the extra QR 10 when the driver is rude and drives like a maniac.
If your Life is in line due to these uncaring driving “skills” and arrogant drivers….Do you think you can still think of giving rewards to them? Not all drivers are like these…but most of them are already here in Doha due to wrong company system…
I always tip the drivers and any laborer who provides a service for that matter.
I would rather walk then take a ride with one if those jerks, I almost got beat up by one.. The system is desperate they will never get rid if these bad tempered arrogant drivers.. Great image for Qatar.. Way to go Karwa great reception we give to our visitors!!
Pot calling the kettle black, perhaps?
just because you had a baad experience with one driver, it is not fair to label to entire team as “jerks”
There is a little thing called work ethic. If a person has a good work ethic regardless of how much or how little they are paid they will do the work to the best of their ability. In terms of taxi drivers this would require them to provide the service of taking customers from the point of pick up to their desired destination without attempts to overcharge them using the most direct route.
It’s something that after 5 years in Doha I can comfortably say doesn’t happen at least 60% of the time. Instead the service you are most likely to receive is: 1) Refusal of service because the driver thinks your destination is too close or his shift ends in an hour (Yes, I have been told before that they couldn’t drive me to my destination which would take 10 minutes because their shift would finish in an hour.) 2) Poor service with unsafe driving practices. 3) Attempts to overcharge the customer.
I have phoned the customer service line while sitting in some of these Karwa taxis and they simply ignore any attempts by the customer service person to ensure that proper service is provided. I have had taxi drivers tell the customer service person they will take the consequence of a day off without pay rather than to drive the customer to where they want to go and charge the correct fee.
That is not someone who has a good work ethic, and people like that should not be rewarded by the customer. Those drivers I will pay the exact fare as stated by the meter and not a riyal more. So every time a Karwa driver provides me with poor service they are not helping their own situation out.
I save my tips for the honest drivers. The ones who have a good work ethic, are polite, and don’t try to rip off the customers. These drivers have obviously know that the best way to improve their own situation is to provide the best service possible to the customer so that they can earn the good tips.
Ive just fill a complaint about this jerk . He was covering the charge . And charged me double of my usual trip charge.
And to make it worst he was rude all the way with his africain loud music .
I will find a way to get a car . I will never ever ride a cab
Three days running an I’ve had three awful experiences … One taxi driver filming me on his mobile phone and two trying to charge me twice the amount because the meter was broken! It clearly states on the window of their cars if the meter doesn’t work you don’t pay the charge …. Screaming and shouting at the drivers is the only way to be heard but being locked in the car because they won’t let you out is just awful and not a pleasant experience …. Threats of calling the police was the only way they unlocked the door to let me out, I rely on this service (if you can call it a service) to get me to work and must remain to rely on them until my residency comes through. You are not representing the country in a good way or the company …… Sort it out please!