For people dining out, heading again to offices, or stumbling out of reopened clubs, life is slowly seeing a semblance of normality.
That is until frustration grabs them as they suffer long waits for a Grab driver to pick them up, with ramped up fares.
Anger rises when people have rides accepted, only to have them cancelled while the driver is enroute.
The blood boils when the ride-hailing app offers a six-seater at premium rate following futile attempts by the passenger to get “Just Grab”, a basic car at the lowest price tier.
Also infuriating is when your booking bounces around from driver to driver because none of them wants the job.
You have to ask Santa Claus to get you a bicycle or start walking if your booking is for a short trip as it may not be economically viable for the drivers.
Of late, the message, “Fares are higher due to higher demand”, that customers are frequently bombarded with, even during off-peak hours, has become extremely annoying.
It seems every second there is a price hike due to a high demand.
Since the beginning of this month, Grab customers have faced higher fares and longer waits for a pick-up because of a worrying combination of driver shortage, surge pricing and multi-apping.
Multi-apping, a term used to describe drivers using rival ride-hailing services as well, is a service failure and should be banned.
So, if you are one of those struggling to get a Grab driver every day, join the dreadful queue.
On Nov 16, Singapore-based Grab Holdings Inc said it was experiencing disruptions to its ride-hailing service across Southeast Asia where it operates in over 400 cities in eight countries.
The company apologised for the “inconvenience” after customers from Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines complained of having difficulties getting various services through the smartphone app.
Users reported all kinds of glitches, from being unable to book a ride or to order food, then getting meals cold.
A week later, the firm apologised again to Malaysian customers who had complained about expensive charges and long waits, saying on Twitter that it was trying to get more drivers to meet the high demand.
In a separate tweet, it said that due to “overwhelming demand, booking time will be longer than usual.” That upset many who vowed to stop using Grab until it improves its service.
So, if for much of 2020 and 2021, it was customers that were missing as Covid-19 killed the cab trade, now, Grab lacks drivers.
Today, it’s a case of too many passengers chasing the few cars available.
It is believed a large number of the pre-pandemic estimate of over 100,000 Grab drivers in Malaysia have since left for other sectors while others only work daytime in order to spend more time with their families.
A lack of drivers has created a situation where they choose the rides they want, leaving the less lucrative pick-ups stranded.
The driver shortage has led to an increase in surge pricing, which is traditionally a public transport peak time uplift. The app automatically hikes prices to reflect demand.
Surging can also happen late at night, such as pub or club kick-out time, when there is a spike in demand for ride-hailing service. With fewer drivers, it happens more.
Customers are also waiting for so long at the moment because in order to pick up the highest fare, some drivers keep several other ride-hailing apps open at one time to keep their take-home pay up.
This practice must stop because passengers have had their rides accepted, only to have them cancelled while the driver was on the way.
Drivers should feel embarrassed for acting unfairly to customers and for being unable to fulfil their requirements.
It’s a big letdown by Grab that has dominated the ride-hailing landscape in Malaysia after its merger with Uber in 2018.
After Uber left town, commuters endeared themselves to Grab, largely due to the cheap fares and good service, despite the entry of smaller firms offering about the same.
In 2019, Malaysia had 41 ride-hailing firms, according to the Land Public Transport Agency, but how many are left and how those still operating are faring is anyone’s guess.
It was then reported that there were about 200,000 registered, active ride-hailing drivers, a quarter of them working full-time.
These brands do not stand out because people prefer Grab. The regular taxis lost their appeal long time ago.
Grab has to come clean with the number of drivers it has throughout the country and disclose its recruitment campaign to up its numbers, simply because it is a major part of the transport system.
The company must realise it needs to work with the government to improve the standard of public transportation.
It must stop creating a nightmare for users who have remained as loyal customers, boosting its reputation and finances.
Were we naïve to think cheap fares would last forever?
Source : FMT