It was a typical Monday afternoon (5 June) for Prabhu (not his real name) as he left for Malaysia via Woodlands checkpoint for part of the week, where he is posted to work at Johor Bahru. The Singapore resident took a bus across the Causeway and, as usual, booked a Grab ride from the JB Sentral to Iskandar Puteri after going through customs.
He was charged MYR 23 for the ride and was waiting patiently at the pickup point when he received a message from his driver. The driver, Mohamad, said: “I’m sorry…fare too…rm28 i pickup and drop off. if dont want you can cancel and try another grabcar.”
Sensing that the driver was trying to earn a cancellation fee, Prabhu decided against cancelling the ride. He used his wife’s phone to book another Grab and was charged the same RM23. His new driver promptly picked him up and dropped him off at his worksite.
During the entire duration of Prabhu’s ride to Iskandar Puteri, Mohamad did not cancel the ride and made no more attempts to pick up Prabhu as he was supposed to or even communicate with the rider.
Grab charges a cancellation fee from users for any rides cancelled five minutes after the ride was booked if the rider is the one to initiate the cancellation. Prabhu suspected Mohamad was trying to earn RM5 either via touting or the cancellation fee imposed by Grab.
Speaking to The Independent Singapore exclusively, under anonymity, Prabhu said: “I was shocked by the driver’s audacity. Thankfully, my wife was there and we were able to book another car. If she was not, I might have had to accept to pay the amount the driver was demanding or swallow the cancellation fee to get to my destination in time.”
Prabhu called on Grab to do more to ensure riders aren’t left stranded by errant drivers and consider revising its cancellation fee policy, which Prabhu feels entices some drivers to try to make a quick buck through unscrupulous means.
Trying to negotiate a different fare from what the Grab app shows blatantly violates Grab’s policies. The Independent Singapore understands that Grab is investigating the issue.
This latest incident comes mere days after another Grab user exposed a driver deliberately delaying a trip he had accepted after catching the driver red-handed at a coffeeshop.
That incident took place last weekend in Singapore. Facebook user DJ KC said on Saturday (3 June) that he had booked a Grab Premium ride to take his mother back to her home, but the vehicle whose driver accepted the ride remained in the same position on the map and was not moving.
Having a hunch that the driver was “just wasting time enjoying his dinner and waiting for me to cancel his booking so that I will get the fine instead and he could profit from it,” DJ KC drove to the location where the car was waiting and caught the driver eating at a coffee shop beside the road where he parked his vehicle.
DJ KC said: “The moment I saw him entering his vehicle I quickly left my driver seat and confronted him while showing him my active grab booking. Oh boy he was stunned and all he could say was, “Sir I don’t know”.”
Asserting that this issue involving errant drivers is more common than some might assume, DJ KC said: “The grab booking system is flawed when it comes to us the consumers and again this wasn’t my first similar experience.”
Grab has said in a statement that it has measures in place to safeguard the interests of passengers and to prevent such errant behaviour among driver-partners.
Apologising for DJ KC’S experience, Grab revealed that it had suspended the driver who delayed the trip he had booked. A spokesman said:
“We are sorry to learn about this incident. Following a review of this incident and past records, we have reasons to believe that the driver-partner deliberately did not head to the pick-up point and hence we have temporarily suspended the driver. We would like to reiterate that driver-partners have the option of going offline when they need to take a break.”
The company assured that its cancellation policy ensures that passengers will not be charged when the app detects that the driver is not headed towards the pick-up point or does not arrive within the 3 minutes of the estimated time of arrival.
It added that suspected stalling behaviour is reviewed and addressed, asserting that the “vast majority” of drivers do not engage in such practices.
Grab said: “There are sometimes legitimate reasons for late pick-ups, and we encourage driver-partners and passengers to be understanding and check in with each other via a call or GrabChat before cancelling.”
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