‘Complaints against cabbies being ignored’

June 24, 2014 - 4:40:25 am

DOHA: Taxi operators have come in for criticism for not acting on complaints against cabbies. Some passengers say that they have not received any response from the operators even months after lodging complaints.

They say an effective system must be introduced for passengers to register complaints and receive feedback from the operators.

The passengers’ main complaints are cabbies not going by the meter, being rude and misbehaving. They say strict action should be taken against drivers to deter such practices.

Taxis operated by Mowasalat and its franchises Al Ijarah and Al Million receive complaints against their drivers either over the phone or by email.

“All complaints go to the customer management office at Mowasalat. An enquiry is conducted on each complaint and action is taken. If the issue is serious, immediate action will be taken; it might take some time for other issues,” said an official at Al Million.

“Drivers are given warning letters or suspended from work, depending on the nature of the complaint,” he added.

However, those who frequently take cabs are critical about how taxi operators handle complaints.

“I made a complaint about speeding and adjusting the meter for rates for destinations outside Doha. I called the Karwa hotline and lodged the complaint, and they assured me they would get back to me. Seven months have passed and nothing has happened,” said a Filipino professional who regularly travels by taxi.

“I have made a few other complaints too, but they (taxi operators) never responded. We never know if the complaints are looked into. I’m not the only one who was treated this way. A lot of other people are treated the same way or worse because their company doesn’t care what the drivers do,” she said.

Some say that action taken against the drivers is not enough to stop them misbehaving.

Cassey Oliveira, a journalist, said that recently a cabbie was very rude to her and even tried to physically abuse her. She lodged a complaint with the Al Million taxi service.

“It was horrible, and totally unexpected. Now, you don’t expect such things to happen in a place like Doha, which seems safe for women, at least from the outside. Since that day, I get scared each time I see a Karwa cab pass by. I try and take a private cab whenever possible,” she said.

Two days later, when Oliveira followed up with Al Million, the officer on the line told her that the driver in question had been suspended for two days. He was reprimanded for his behaviour and would be sent for counselling.

“I would have preferred termination, but if that’s extreme, at least suspend him for a longer period so that he is careful the next time. They suspended him for only two days, which is hardly anything. And personally, I needed an apology from the driver, not the management,” she said.

She suggested having a mechanism where one can track a cab’s route and send it to a friend or family member so that they can reach you in time if anything happens.

A commentator on a popular Qatari social media website suggested having a hotline which passengers can use in case of a problem with taxi drivers.

“Maybe the government should do it. Assign a hotline to complain against taxi drivers,” said the commentator.

Some passengers say that they don’t make the effort to complain because the taxi operators do little or nothing following a complaint.

“I was sitting on the front passenger seat; my sister was at the rear seat. The driver was disgusting. He was driving keeping his left leg up and massaging it with his right hand. I was holding myself not to vomit,” said another regular taxi passenger.

“But what’s the point in making a complaint if the companies don’t take firm actions against the drivers,” she said.

Others claim that hotline of Karwa cannot be reached often.