Here is the ordeal in its entirety, the aftermath in the following days, as well as lessons I learned.
Image source: vietnambusiness.tv
It was a rainy Saturday evening in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
I opened up the Uber app in my phone and hailed a ride. A driver responded and I confirmed.
I gave Driver A a call and he informed me he was on his way. I waited more than 30 minutes before he eventually he revealed he didn't know the area / couldn't locate me and asked me to cancel my booking. I replied that if it were the case, he should be the one to cancel. He reverted that if he did so then he would be penalized by Uber ; hence it would be better if the passenger (me) cancelled. I did so and was charged Rm5 because it had been more than 5 minutes since I confirmed the ride.
After I cancelled the first ride, I hailed another Uber and Driver B responded to my request. I then received a call from him enquiring my destination. When I informed him, the following exchange took place
Him: Oh.. you want to go there.. but it's not on my way. Can you cancel your ride?
Me: Then why did you respond? In that case, YOU cancel it.
Him: But I'll get blacklisted by Uber.
Me: Ugghh, fine.
Following the second failed attempt, I try hailing another Uber - and Driver C responded. However to my frustration, the same scenario repeated itself!
(In the second and third events, I wasn't charged as I cancelled both in less than 5 minutes. However, the inconvenience of the situation made for an extremely poor customer experience.)
Tired of playing this game with Uber, I then turned to another ride hailing app popular in Southeast Asia.
I hailed a ride with Grab and a driver responded. I requested to be picked up at the Grab booth at my location - he agreed. 45 minutes later and a flurry of calls and messages, turns out he was circling the area and didn't know where to pick me up from. I informed him to use Waze / Google Maps and provided him the name of the restaurant I was at but he insisted he didn't know and asked me to walk to where he was waiting.
Fed up of waiting and this ridiculous back-and-forth, I reluctantly complied and WALKED IN THE RAIN to find this incompetent driver. Multiple calls and messages more - I managed to locate him! I nearly cried tears of relief and got into the car approximately an hour since I booked the ride. After all the drama, I thought that was the end of this harrowing ordeal and I could finally get going.
However, it was not. I arrived at my destination and was about to get out when he stopped me and presented me with a bill of Rm 15 (on top of the original fare). Turns out he had paused at a reserved parking when he was circling about and was charged - now I had to bear his penalty.
I argued but was exhausted after a night out and just wanted to get this done and over with. I eventually paid up.
In the following week, I shared my experiences with both ride hailing services on social media. This is how the parties involved responded.
In less than 2 hours, Uber had reached out to me to apologize. That day itself, the following actions were carried out
- Refund the cost of penalty
- Refund the cost of the ride
- Extra Uber credits as compensation
After the infuriating experience, I rated the driver deservingly and also sent an email to their customer support team. I received an email that stated they 'appreciate bringing to our attention' but nothing further.
This prompted me to take to Facebook - however with still no response in sight I escalated to LinkedIn and also tagged their CEO and Founder. That evening, I received a call from the Grab team apologizing and verbally outlining the following actions. (However, it was only a week later that they were carried out.)
- Refund the cost I was charged for 'VIP Parking'
- Refund the cost of the ride
- Extra Grab credits as compensation
This is also a partial reason as to why I am writing this post - more than a few people are asking me about my experience that evening and how things were resolved. As a consumer, it is our responsibility to deliver feedback in a clear and coherent manner. This is so companies can take this into consideration to educate their drivers, who can then in turn deliver accordingly to consumers - ultimately providing a positive experience for all.
Rampage rants which go " F&$%!! all ride hailing services you all SOBs never taking a ride again MotherF*#@ers! " are of no help to anyone.
As with any other regular company, ride hailing service do the best they can to screen and educate their employees. However some parties may still be misaligned at times. What you can do is to deliver feedback and let them take necessary action.
Being a regular user of ride hailing services, I must say that the majority of drivers I've encountered have a sense of ownership and responsibility to do their job well and deliver a smooth and pleasant experience as possible. There may be a few who are the exception to this, but as a whole I find that ride hailing services provide a valuable service to the public and I will continue to use them.