Shipping in the Sultanate

Have any of you ever had to deal with receiving a shipped package here in Oman? I'm talking about receiving packages with any of the big international couriers. In the last 3 months I've had the misfortune to have had to deal with DHL, UPS, TNT, Aramex and FedEx to receive packages here in Muscat and I'm just totally flabbergasted at how bad they are.

Now I must be a special case or a marked man or something. Why is it that Domino's Pizza can deliver to my house or office no problem, but for global corporate companies, who's primary business it is to actually deliver packages, they can't deliver to my house (or office)?

I actually have a theory on this, and perhaps I'm wrong, but from my experiences built up from half a decade of dealing with these couriers here in Oman, I am standing by my theory:

The delivery drivers are lazy asses.

There, I said it. Nationality doesn't come into it, I don't know who drives the trucks and vans around town, but I am pointing the finger squarely at them, the delivery drivers. And it doesn't matter which courier you use, they are all equally lazy. The one exception was a recent experience with TNT with a letter couriered to me from Dubai, that was apparently "out for delivery" in a van for 5 entire days before I started to investigate. Apparently the driver could not find my office in MSQ - despite being given the Way number and the Building number, as well as the building name (my employers own the entire building with a reception). The driver, clearly, couldn't be arsed to do his job. And worse than that, TNT didn't even call to inform that the letter had not been delivered for their given reason (couldn't find the address). It was only after the person that had sent the package called me to ask if I had received it - otherwise I would never have known!

The standard routine for delivery packages here in Oman with any of these couriers appears to be:

1. Call the number on the package (if your thoughtful enough to remind the sender to put it on there) and let it ring no more than five times.
2. If call is answered, finish conversation with your mate first, take up to half a minute to do this. Turning down your music is optional. If call is not answered, see step 6.
3. Say you can't deliver the package because you can't find the address.
4. Ignore any requests from the customer to deliver to the address written on the package.
5. Say you will call back later.
6. Never call back, ever, on pain of death.

All of this BS now means that I know exactly where each of the courier's offices are as I have to take time out of my day, after, in many cases, over $100 in shipping fee's have been paid, to go and collect my packages. I particularly don't like FedEx packages because I hate going anywhere near Ruwi, and there is never anywhere to park near their Hamriya office.

And as for fees - I recently had some exhaust parts for a car shipped over from the US via TNT. Now the Free Trade Agreement between Oman and the USA clearly states that no Duty will be levied on any Industrial or Consumer goods. I, as a consumer, purchased some goods from the US, and had it shipped from the USA to me, here in Oman.

I was charged a little under RO 25 in duty by TNT for these exhaust parts. They calculated the duty on the total amount of the purchase, including the shipping fees I paid to the seller. So they charged me Duty fees for the value of their own shipping services, as well as the fact that they charged me Duty fees for a private consumer goods purchase from the USA, which are supposed to be duty free. Naturally I argued against this in their office in Khuwair (on Dohat al Adab street, shared with GAC logistics).

Do you know what their answer to me was?

It's only duty free if it lands directly from the USA, your package landed in the UAE, and then came here, so it attracts duty fees.

Excuse me? What. The. F$@k? Why is it of my concern how a package gets here? It was sent from the USA, addressed to someone in Oman. I don't care how it gets here, and I don't see how that effects the need for charging duty on packages either. Perhaps I just misunderstand the FTA and thats totally fine, it wouldn't be the first time I've misunderstood something.

I was tired and late for something else so I just paid the money and took my package, but I would really like to know what the truth is with shipments from the USA and attracting Duty here in Oman. I remember I got fleeced by UPS when shipping something from the USA before as well, so it's not a situation solely with TNT.

It all smells like a scam to me. How about you lot? Have you had any good, or bad, experiences with local courier companies here? How about getting packages from the USA and not actually paying any duty? Have you ever even actually had a package successfully delivered to your address? Surely there should be a discount in the rates if we are only paying for pick-up and shipping (and not delivery)?

le fin.
Shipping in the Sultanate Shipping in the Sultanate Reviewed by Sythe on Saturday, September 08, 2012 Rating: 5


  1. I agree to the most of your point here mate, as i posted on my FB account that when it ticks 3pm delivery exception will be applied and when your package will arrived here in Muscat early morning of Thursday, you have to wait for Saturday to be delivered. But to be fair with the courier services here in Oman - UPS, DHL and Fedex are what I am utilizing to bring my item from the US, I can say that they are haven't let me down, except when it arrives on Thursday :) For UPS, when they make a call and I am out of the office/house, i would rather instruct them to leave the package on their office and I always pick them up to their Al Khuwair office, DHL and Fedex - during their first delivery to me they call me, but now, those guys just ring the bell or just sneak on my back in the office and let me sign the paper :).

    USPS service never find its way to my flat/house :) they always get back to the sender.

  2. I have no complaints of these sort for well over a decade. I just received a packet from India on Thursday.I received a call and then explained the route to my home and bang it arrived at the time given. I called the Sender in India and she is surprised how can it be so fast?!
    I must have received more than fifty courier parcels/letters and not once I had the experience you describe and therefore I reject your theory. However I sympathize with you my dear blogger.

  3. I paid a lot of money with Aramex to collect something from my parents in UK ,packing on collection, & deliver it to me at work (Way no, building etc). To be fair I had a phone call from Al Khuwair office but it was in response to my 2 visits into their office and numerous calls. Aramex Uk didn't pack on collection & it got broken and then it sat in UK a week waiting for Oman to tell them what to do. I finally got my delivery another week later, which I naturally picked up from their office. Only good point was I got a discount for the damage, which was less than the insurance I paid.

  4. Welcome to my world!!

    We have car parts shipped here regularly from the UK - Fed Ex I have found are no problem, but I could cheerfully kill any and all of the employees at UPS and their agents.
    Our items are shipped paid by the sender, but we still have to pay a "disbursment fee" on top of customs duty. What for? Basically its a delivery charge!!! Eh?? They are paid in the UK to deliver to my door!!!
    After several months it was finally agreed this would be 2 OR, but they regularly "forget" and up it to 6 OR (so we refuse to pay the customs until they rectify the invoice). I have had every man and his dog involved in how appalling their service is, including all senior management from both the UK and Middle East. The poor service we have here in Oman has even jeopardised the UPS contract globally. Has it made a difference? Sure, they are ok for maybe two months, or until something hazardous arrives (battery, seatbelt etc), then it all goes wrong and I end up calling in the big guns again.....
    I am sick of having the same conversation, but I let rip now, and threaten all sorts. It seems to work.

    Give me a shout next time you need some exhaust parts though... ;-))

  5. Moneypenny807!

    Can you email me?

    Can't see a way to email you via your profile!


  6. True that! The customs laws here are so confused. I regularly use the Aramex Shop & Ship service to buy stuff online from the US, but I get charged customs too. Apparently no customs applies on electronic goods such as cellphones, laptops etc. but does on apparel such as tshirts, shoes etc. The delivery is iffy and most times we end up collecting from the Aramex store, but thats not a big hassle, so I don't worry about it too much. Its just the customs duty that bothers me! :)

  7. It took me 2 months to get a small package from India! The opposite holds good true as well, I cant send any of my paintings to USA, the charges are exorbitant! So I had to stop exhibiting :-(

  8. I'm happy to say I haven't had the experiences you've had thus far. We deal with DHL in Salalah and they've always come directly to our residential address with any mail. If I'm not home they even call me and will leave the parcel in a designated place or make some other arrangement (eg. leave with neighbour). That said, we're only moving things between Salalah/Muscat so customs etc. doesnt apply...

  9. I completely agree. i have been even asked to meet up with the driver (Aramex) at the nearest roundabout cause he was too busy and had too many packages to deliver!!!! seriously... if i am doing half ur job. then why don't you pay me for picking it up.

  10. A friend of mine shipped his wedding invitation over with a courier... He had his wedding 2 months ago and I still haven't received the invite.

  11. ARAMEX are another of those crooks. Their guy comes everyday to our office to deliver some package in Wadi Kabir. But still one day when I was tracking one urgent package the excuse given by them was their guy could not find our office.

  12. The Aramex delivery guy (Al Khuwair branch)claimed that my letter had been signed and handed to my housemaid when I enquired about the exceptionally late delivery. That's odd I told them, I don't keep a housemaid!!! It turns out that no one was home so he handed the letter to a random housemaid on the same street, let her sign for it without any ID.... The letter actually contained my replacement credit card from the bank. Luckily when the sponsors of the maid returned back from their 6 week holiday, they found the letter, knew who I was and handed it on to me... I had since cancelled the card...

  13. There is one key rule about couriers in Oman - never ever allow them to deliver! You are absolutely right about their drivers.

    Best courier service from the States is EMS. Cheapest too. No need for shop and ship.

    Best customer service is the DHL lady who runs the Al Khuwair mini office, next to AXA.

    worst is anything to do with ARAMEX.


  14. With such sulky delivery services what to do then?

  15. I had a package delivered from Istanbul. 1 day from Istanbul to Muscat and then 6 days from Muscat to Sohar. The driver insisted he had been to try to deliver the package to my work but a few minutes later asked where the office was as he didn't know. Six hours later he called back and asked me to drive to Sohar gates and meet him to pick up my parcel. In a slightly hulk like rage I pointed out he was the courier and not me. That was TNT but DHL are not really any better.

  16. Grrrrr ARAMEX!!! I used to order the same shipment from the UK every few months for a class I taught, (raw wool, an unfinished product that apparently requires no extra duty to be paid). Every time I went to collect it the girl would ask me to pay a random amount in duty, somewhere Between RO 5 and RO40 !! She could provide no paperwork to support this calculation and I grew tired of arguing about it in the office every time. So they have lost my custom. least the items arrive here in one piece. On quite a few occasions the parcels I have received through regular Oman post have been opened and some contents stolen! And sending parcels to UK is not much better. I had to PAY to RECEIVE BACK the parcel I had sent as they "could not find my address" We live next door to a post office. Obviously never went anywhere near the UK!

  17. I could write and write about this for the next few days.

    But the last delivery was my favourite one.

    Aramex called me asking me where to deliver. I said I work at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (a small little five star entity in town...).

    Aramex kept on asking me 'where the nearest landmark is'. I repeatedly told him this is the landmark. I also told him that there is an Aramex driver about five times (!) in our hotel to collect items from guests. To no avail. He asked what the nearest embassy is. I mentioned to him the closest Embassy would be the Syrian embassy.

    I never received the letter. Until three days letter someone else from Aramex called me and said they have a letter for me...

    He asked where to delivery. I said to the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The caller said why I then told the previous caller that I am working at the Syrian Embassy...

    OK, English is not my first language. But I definately told him at least FIVE times Grand Hyatt and only once Syrian Embassy. And all he remembered was Syrian Embassy.

    I think I was actually lucky they did not send the letter to a Grand Hyatt in Syria. Or maybe they did but realized there is no Grand Hyatt and Syria and the letter was returned...

  18. UPS charged me OR 27 for a USD $9 engine part with a 24 hour guarantee delivery from Abu Dhabi.
    Five days later I refused to meet them at the nearest alndmark, and had to pick it up from their office myself.
    Never again.

  19. There is a new company that just arouse in Muscat called Relogulf, they are originally based in Dubai and the United Kingdom, but have now been brought up in Muscat. The good thing about Relogulf is that it being run at the moment by 2 British expatriates that have been living out here all their lives so they know how things work but have the sense and the work ethic of the UK. I recommend you give them a try!

  20. You are correct, according to the text of the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, qualifying U.S. origin goods (at least 35% American value added) should enter Oman duty free, regardless of whether they've been transshipped / rebundled via Dubai. You find the language in Article 4.9 in the Rules of Origin chapter:

  21. Pretty same experience as quite a few here posted. My Dubai office sends via Aramex and Fedex. The only difference is that Fedex actually has improved. They call and deliver either to my home in Qurm or office in Azaiba. Aramex...well, they delivered to four (4) locations and still have not found my office! At least those offices were nice enough to inform me and I go collect. I did go to Aramex office and made a big scene, but no change. Now we cancelled our Aramex account and I get a call from them asking if there is any specific reason for that.

    I answered..Just that you cannot deliver, answer the phone or assist customers, otherwise it is perfect.

  22. We can save a good amount by using courier services as I am using US parcel forwarding to purchase USA Free Shipping products then to deliver me at my address.

  23. please keep sharing of knowledges with us.Thanks a lot for your great posting.

  24. Talked to a polite and thorough customer service dude who helped me quickly and efficiently. The amount of trust their clients put in them is indicative of the quality of their characters.
    Warehousing service

  25. I have no issues with DHL they have been the most reliable thus far.
    However I have used USPS in the past a 3 times and only 2 of them I received after hours and hours of phone calls post office visits. Logistics in Oman is worst than anywhere else. I think it's laziness and a matter of not being bothered. I would only stick to DHL as my courier only if it is important otherwise I get everything shipped to uk and many times I year I go back to collect.


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