Drivers and passengers say Grab’s new perks not enough to resolve complaints

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Photo: Facebook screengrab

Complaints from drivers and passengers have driven Grab to offer new perks to both. Grab is offering “spot bonuses” to drivers and rewards points to customers to sweeten what has become, for customers, a more difficult process in getting rides since Uber ceased operations in Singapore earlier in the year; and for drivers, a loss of incentives that has affected their income greatly.

However, both customers and drivers feel that these new perks do not compensate for higher fees and cancelled rides and the loss of incentives.

Grab’s new incentives for customers work like this. From October 8 until December 31, the ride-hailing company will give 100 points to customers when their rides are cancelled. These points give passengers discounts at certain establishments or on future Grab rides under the Grab Rewards program. For example, a customer who has accumulated 2,200 points is gets a S $5 discount on a Grab booking. Exempted from this program is GrabHitch, which is the company’s carpooling option.

Lim Kell Jay, the head of Grab Singapore, says that the company already offers automatic rebooking for cancelled rides, and the new incentive is a value-added service Grab decided to offer its customers.

And for drivers, Grab is giving S$3 “spot bonuses” for those who drive further than 3 kilometers for their pick-ups. According to Mr. Lim, Grab’ drivers usually cancel bookings when they deem that they are too far away.

He said, “The spot bonus, along with other initiatives, has already seen cancellation rates go down by 20 per cent since we launched (it) a month ago.”

All GrabTaxi and GrabCar drivers who get top ratings on 10 rides and have no cancellations from October 5 through 21 will be dividing a cash prize of S $25,000 among themselves.

Another adjustment that Grab has made for customers is allowing them to change their destinations via the Grab app mid-ride. Drivers are quickly informed of the new destination and change in price.

This move came about after comments from customers and drivers. Mr. Lim said, “We will be gathering feedback from drivers and passengers before deciding how we can further improve the product for everyone. We acknowledge there is a lot more we can do and are making every effort to improve our services and customer experience, and drivers and passengers can expect more initiatives and improvements in the next few months.”

Complaints about Grab have increased since Uber ceased operations in March, with most of the complaints revolving around rising prices and decreasing incentives.

Forrester, a market research firm, released a report last week saying that the poor customer experience reviews caused the company’s image to sink in people’s minds, and that the company could learn “the hard way” should no improvements be implemented.

According to the report, “The stunning pace with which Grab fell from its unquestioned position as a local digital hero should remind all e-business leaders that their customers are in charge.”

This comes on the heels of the recent fine that the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) meted on Grab and Uber, amounting to more than S$ 13 million, for their “anti-competitive” merger.

Grab customers seem none too thrilled about the new perks, saying that because the Grab Rewards program requires more points than before in order to redeem rewards, 100 points offered does not amount to much.

However, the change to Grab’s billing for bookings when destinations need to be changed is a welcome one, considering that sometimes emergencies arise.

Drivers don’t seem to be happy either, saying that the S$3 bonus does not cover costs when they are stick in traffic.

Many drivers have complained that incentives are much fewer than they were even last year, when they could net S$600 every week for accomplishing 100 trips. Today, that incentive has gone down to only $150.