Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Of Ethics..Bloggers in Oman

'Taking perks' and other issues with bloggers concerning Oman has popped up recently in popular blogger posts here in Oman. Most of the posts focused on justifications for accepting perks. Personally, I have noticed that the number of bloggers posting about the 'dinner' they attended or the 'free give away' offered to the readers provided by a local company or restaurant has significantly increased in the last couple of years compared to the earlier blog scene in Oman.

As far as this blog goes, we have intentionally never accepted any perk nor do we expect receiving such and remain anonymous for reasons to feel free from expectations or influence in expression. And, we do our best to respect the laws of the Sultanate.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oman Post on Strike

According to someone who tried to mail today at Ruwi location, Oman Post is on strike. They are asking for a salary increment.

Common Scams in Oman

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Well, to start off I would like to note that Oman is a terribly safe country. If I had to be dropped off in a country in the middle of the night with no money or phone, I would hope to be let off in Oman.

However, I am posting some annoying scams I've found going on here. A lot of them involve trying to make an extra 'beza' (the Omani 'cent').

1. The Water Scam

The large jugs used for household water machines are sometimes filled with tap water instead of drinking water. The delivery person or shopkeeper fills and empty bottle with tap water and then reglues the plastic wrap on the lid.

Those with a discerning palate will be able to taste the difference. Otherwise, check the tops carefully before fitting the jug into the machine. Muscat tap water is suitable to drink but most people drink bottled water.

2. The Expiration Date, Redated

This generally happens at the smaller grocery stores. Merchants have been known to 'extend' the shelf-life of their food goods by 're'dateing the expired products to a later expiration date saving the merchant money from having to toss the non-sold items which are potentially dangerous to consume past the expiration date depending on the item.

Some shopkeepers have been jailed for putting kids in the hospital for food poisoning by selling expired candy which had spoiled. This was really low. Check over what your buying more carefully, smell it, inspect the packaging for mold (don't smell the mold) or if the expiration date looks 'fishy' skip it. Call consumer protection on suspected violators.

3. The Swapping of Original Parts for Generic Duplicates
This can happen in regard to vehicles or electronics. Original parts cost more; so, for example, if you leave your car in a repair shop, one scam is to change your original parts (unrelated to the repair job) for generic parts (in addition to fixing the car) and then re-sell the original parts from your car pocketing the price difference. Highly annoying.

Take a picture of the mechanic when leaving the shop as a deterrent. When people feel identified, the are less likely to 'try' something. Come to check on your car at unpredicted times or stay nearby the car as they repair it.

4. The Petrol Station Mart Adding a Few Hundred Extra Beza

The classic short-change gig. Either the customer will be overcharged a few hundred beza or will be given the wrong change. A couple hundred beza several times a day adds up over a month increasing the salary of the clerk. Many people here with their trusting natures don't count their change. Sometimes, it could be an honest math error. This scam has been known to happen more often at certain Oman oil or Shell stations.

5. The Taxi Mark-Up According to What Passport You Look Like You Hold

Taxi drivers are not regulated here or metered like in other nations. It is the taxi car that is registered to the person but anyone's uncle (literally) can drive the taxi car for the day/night to make extra money.

Driver quality is really a mixed-bag and I don't suggested women or children ride alone on the off chance you get a 'dodgy' one even if most drivers are professional.

Even Omani men riding as passengers in taxis are not immune and have been driven to isolated places or flirted with. Most of the time you can escape by yelling or threatening to call the police.  However, many people make an arrangement with a trusted driver to be on call for them or have set times for pickup and drop off.

Generally, the richer the country you look like you are from the higher your fare will be. Honestly, if my car is out of commission I don't ride in taxis anymore and would prefer to hitch over taking a taxi.