What happened to Marhaba?

When Marhaba launched, I was very pleased. It meant I could (at the time I thought at least) reliably get a Taxi at any time. Which, for me, meant mostly: rides out to the airport for early morning flights, and rides home from a bar after a night on the sauce. I had some really good early experiences, and was compelled to write about it last year (which is something I've not been doing much of on this blog lately - writing - but here's a little ranty post). I was very happy. A handy little app, and service. When there was no real service available here in Muscat, any service is better than none - and I genuinely had some great experiences.

However, here we are in the tail end of February 2018, some 9 months on from when I first experienced (and subsequently shared them) Marhaba's service.

Since then, however, Marhaba's service has deteriorated now to the point where I no longer use them. Why? Well, first and foremost, their app on Android simply doesn't work! And it hasn't worked for months. I'm an Android user, so can't speak for those on fruit phones, but go and check out their Google Play app page..... loads of complaints from many, many people. All saying the same thing: the app doesn't work.

And not a single response from the developer. Whoever Marhaba are employing to manage their App, they should quite frankly be replaced. Their business model depends on people using their app to order rides, and when literally 15 of the 16 reviews the app has received so far this year are all 1 star with the same complaint: The app doesn't work. When that happens, its probably a good idea to communicate with your users and advise on a time frame for when an update would be rolled out that will fix that issue.

So, moving on from the fact that you can't currently actually place a request for a taxi in the app, here are more experiences I've gained over the last 9 months with Marhaba:

1. The accept the fare and never turn up trick. This one is super annoying. Lets say you actually need to be somewhere, and quickly. Lets say you order a cab for immediate pick up and request a ride. Someone accepts this ride and then the inevitable missed call immediately happens (many drivers don't bother calling now, just send a missed call to make you call them). You call, they ask where you are. Like... the app says EXACTLY where I am because its working on GPS (the app is a battery killer too) but ok so you go through the motions to say where you are. Next up they will say something like... ok I'll be there in 10 minutes. You can see them on the app. They're parked at a mall, or a house, or a hotel, they're parked somewhere and you can see them. You can also see that they're not moving. And after 10 minutes if you cancel the ride and request a new ride.... guess what? You can only (in my experience) get the same driver. There doesn't appear to be an option to explain to Marhaba that the driver is late and that you want a new driver.

2. The call centre doesn't seem to have anyone working in it. So, recently my car had some mechanical problems and I needed a lift to work from my house in the morning. After trying to get the app to load and failing, I decided to call the call centre, at 7:40am, to ask for a ride. Nope, no one answers the phone at the call centre at that time. Because, why would anyone want to go anywhere at 7:40am on a work day?

3. The stop intentionally a block away from your house and say that they're waiting for you trick. Again, a super irritating one this. They have GPS, they have maps and they know damn well where you are - but they stop and say they're there - and start their "waiting timer". This one happens a lot and its quite frankly fraud. An easy way to add on a rial or 2 to the journey bill by pretending they don't know where you are.

4. The cancel the trip once you're in the car and then gouge you on the fare trick. This has happened to me before. I was going from my house to a location in Qurum, as soon as I got in the car the driver said he'll take me there for 3 rials and that his phone's GPS wasn't working very well. Me being rather naive said ok - I knew it would be about 3-4 rials for the ride and so was ok with this. He cancels the trip and off we go. He pulls up to my desired location and then says, that is 10 rials. I argued and ultimately threatened to call Marhaba and report him and gave him the 3 that we'd agreed - but how many times do people get duped by this and end up paying more?

I think you can get the gist of it. Basically - Marhaba was great with some real potential, but it has failed to keep it up. Back to the old ways - I've got 10 or so Taxi guys numbers on my WhatsApps... drop a pin and wait for them.

Marhaba, if you're reading this - fix your app fast or you'll go out of business - and for those honest drivers for Marhaba who have bought in and taken loans for the new cars that Marhaba demands you have - my heart goes out to them, because not all Marhaba drivers are bad - but the few bad ones spoil it for the rest of them. And with no way to currently actually place an order for a Marhaba ride, their business must be struggling badly.

le fin.

What happened to Marhaba? What happened to Marhaba? Reviewed by Sythe on Sunday, February 25, 2018 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. It is truly shameful, that we are in 2018 and still don't have a reliable taxi service in Muscat.
    I, usually, call an airport taxi driver directly who comes to my house all the time for a premium fee of course, one day he was supposed to show up at my house for an early morning flight, and when he didn't I called him and he was still sleeping in his house which was half an hour away.
    So, the faster alternative for me was to try Marhaba for the first time, I placed the order, and the driver took all the time in the world he needed to come from Sarooj to MQ, while I am watching his unreasonable choices of roads on the map.
    when he was in my neighbourhood, I had to call him about 12 times to guide him to where I was exactly, because I wasn't mobile due to luggage.
    He was clearly playing the third trick in your article.
    I ended up walking with my luggage around 400m after asking him to stop moving and wait where he was and I am coming to him.
    Another trick was played, which is the no meter trick, but the agreed value wasn't much different than what I used to pay for airport taxi.

    It was only once, and I decided never to use it again, very bad service indeed.

    How about Mowasalat taxis, I heard they have an app also, but never tried. has anyone tried it?



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