“Merely a year ago, the majority of Talabat’s riders abandoned their work due to grievances over unfavorable working conditions and inadequate compensation, while not a single Careem Captain ceased their services,” revealed Alex Golden, General Manager of Food at Careem.
The ongoing clash between Careem and its food delivery rivals Talabat and Deliveroo, coupled with disapproval from UAE social media users, has ignited controversy surrounding Careem’s recent ‘Dirhams for Delays’ campaign. Concerns have been raised regarding the safety of delivery riders and the heightened job-related stress caused by this initiative.
Careem, the super-app, recently introduced a promotion wherein customers receive AED1 for each additional minute of delay in food delivery, with a maximum payment limit of AED10 per order. The credited amount is transferred to the customer’s Careem Pay wallet. Although the campaign is set to run until June 8, any earned credit will remain available in customers’ wallets.
In response to the criticism surrounding the cashback policy, Alex Golden, Careem’s GM of Food, defended the company’s commitment to safety and emphasized their unparalleled track record in Dubai’s food delivery app landscape. He stated, “Our Dirhams for Delays campaign is about fulfilling promises, not about speed. Careem Captains are not aware of the estimated arrival times (ETAs) promised to customers and are neither incentivized nor penalized based on delivery time. We are not promising faster ETAs; instead, we guarantee accuracy.” Golden further highlighted the key differentiating factor, explaining, “We ensure on-time delivery by assigning a dedicated Captain to each customer’s order, unlike Talabat, which combines multiple orders, leading to delays and compromised reliability.”
Demonstrating Careem’s commitment to their Captain community, Golden confidently asserted, “Our Captains are treated exceptionally well, surpassing any competitors in the market. They earn significantly more than Talabat riders and enjoy greater flexibility in their schedules. We refuse to settle for anything less. Just a year ago, most of Talabat’s riders protested and walked off the job due to unfavorable working conditions and poor pay, whereas not a single Careem Captain halted their services.”
Talabat’s CEO, Tomaso Rodriguez, expressed strong disapproval of Careem’s campaign, stating, “It is neither safe nor aligned with our values. We do not endorse campaigns of this nature, as they only add pressure on riders to deliver faster. Our focus is on providing the best possible experience, without incentivizing expedited delivery at the expense of our riders.”
Similarly, Anis Harb, Deliveroo’s GM for the Middle East, conveyed concerns about the campaign’s message, stating, “We do not believe it sends the right message, and we do not want the Deliveroo brand to be associated closely with such a concept. We have steered away from emphasizing delays and their implications in the past. Personally, I believe that a marketing campaign centered around delays carries implications that resonate with consumers and within the industry. Although I am aware of the backlash, I do not pay much attention to their campaign.”
While the ‘Dirhams for Delays’ campaign is scheduled to conclude on June 8, it remains uncertain whether the policy will be extended or modified. In response to immediate backlash, Careem clarified that the policy would not have any financial or safety repercussions for drivers. Captains use a separate app for deliveries, ensuring they are not burdened with charges or subjected to penalties for delayed payments.
Careem Food, an integral part of Careem’s Super App, has experienced significant growth in Dubai, with its customer base and order volumes more than doubling in the past year. Across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, Careem Food has expanded its network by incorporating 9,600 new F&B outlets, offering customers access to over 17,000 restaurants in all these markets. The company prides itself on providing accurate estimated delivery times by closely collaborating with restaurants to ensure a dedicated Captain is available as soon as the food is prepared, distinguishing itself from other food delivery services that group multiple orders together.