Muscat: Cheating gas delivery agents are charging customers four times the going rate for a gas canister refill, prompting warnings from the Royal Oman Police and consumer complaint watchdogs.
Some rogue gas delivery men are also lying to residents telling them they have leaking and dangerous pipes and connections, in an effort to boost their own profits.
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These lone traders can also turn angry on the doorstep, when residents question their fees or ask for a receipt, residents have reported.
“He was standing in my doorway, my husband was at work and he told me I owed OMR32, OMR13 for a medium size canister refill and a new hose, as he said the old hose was faulty. “When I reminded him he had supplied and fitted the hose last October, he said the heat in Oman had warped it, and demanded payment. I told him I only had OMR20 and he told me to go look around the house for more money, as I tried to stop my toddler from running out on to the stairwell.
“He wouldn’t leave until I went to look. I told him I had no more than what I had given him. He walked downstairs angry and we haven’t been able to contact him since. My husband has contacted the authorities and asked him to return the hose he said was faulty, so it can be independently inspected.”
Residents spoke of being charged between OMR2.8 and OMR13 for the same gas in the same size canisters. One said: “The delivery guy was a big man, and I felt intimidated by him. My husband was out and he was bullying me into paying him more. I reported him.”
More than 30 individuals have reached out to the TOO claiming to have been scammed by the delivery services.
One reader said: “OMR5 for filling and OMR35 for a new bottle. If I want to give the bottle back I only get OMR 12!”
“I have stayed in Oman for 12 years. I worked for an Omani family for eight years and the small size cylinder cost OMR 3.5 only. But when I worked for a German family, they charged OMR8,” another comment read.
Another resident said: “Yes, they cheated us. We once bought gas for only OMR3.5 - I think it was the medium tank. The delivery guy asked for OMR8 because he said we do not have a lift at home (3rd floor flat). I said that is not a reason to ask for that much, but still he insisted for the money. Another delivery guy stated they were the only company who delivered gas because the other gas companies were closed.
“I didn’t want to argue with them because what was more important to me at that time was to have gas. I am just sharing my experience so that everyone will have an idea also and someday I know that there is someone who will report them to the authority.”
“Yes we were cheated. Usually those who deliver at home, in those cylinders the gas is less than normal, half filled. But we paid the same price. This happened with us twice. Since then we buy direct from the company,” another reader said.
A Public Authority for Consumer Protection spokesman said: “Always make sure you ask for a receipt. If they deny you one, they could be cheating you.”
According to the source at the PACP, although different regions have different rates, anything above OMR3.5 for trading an empty cylinder with a full one is incorrect. “It all depends. Sometimes large cylinders can cost a lot of money. If you feel like you are being cheated, make sure you ask for a receipt. If you don’t get a receipt, then it’s probably because they are cheating you,” the source said. Customers should visit their local PACP with documentation of the incident to file a report.
“If the customer feels that he or she is being cheated, they should present a written documentation of the incident, the receipt, mobile number and shop location. If they are filing a report about the delivery services, then they should also provide the trading licence which should be on the vehicle door. With the information provided, we can work with the police and investigate,” the source said.
The Royal Oman Police has also warned the public regarding customers feeling harassed and threatened by aggressive delivery scammers.
“There are two ways to address the issue. If you feel like you are being cheated, that will have to go through the Public Authority for Consumer Protection. If you feel like your safety is being violated in your own home, then you have to file a police report at your local station,” a source at the ROP said.
ROP advises customers to not only save the mobile number, but also get the licence plate number.
“If you don’t have the licence plate number, ask your friends in the neighbourhood to try and get the number,” the source added