Why Do Grab Drivers Cancel All The Time? And What Is Grab Doing About It?
In today’s episode of “pointing fingers”, we have Grab and LTFRB, in their exhaustive and overlong efforts of ironing out hitches over problematic commuting using Grab’s service. To those uninitiated, this is a problem because Grab is the only major player in the TVN space in the country, following Uber’s decision to sell its Southeast Asian operators to its major competitor, Grab. Now that Grab Philippines has essentially monopolized the space, they’re forced to face operational contentions from the Philippine government, pundits, and the public.
The latest: LTFRB has insisted that Grab submit a show cause order explaining their drivers’ refusal to accommodate passengers. Grab has also been forced to suspend its 2-peso per minute charge, which Grab has failed to communicate to its users. On the issue, country head Brian Cu posited that the suspension impacted the boost in drivers’ cancellations, pointing to the fact that taking out the charge is a big implication to their drivers.
“Drivers have to buy gas, pay the monthly amortization for the vehicle, or the daily boundary, and when traffic stalls them, it is only the Php 2 per minute that saves their income. So with the Php 2 gone, many of our drivers earn less and drive less, if at all,” Cu explains in a statement, in which he also states that the drivers’ decision to cancel is also predicated on the fact that they know they will likely encounter exhaustive traffic. As of this writing, Grab’s motion for reconsideration for their increased Php 2 charge is awaiting feedback; Grab justifies this by saying that the charge is legal based on DoTR’s orders from 2015.
Grab’s latest move, at the time of this writing, is cracking down on its drivers who cancel more frequently than what Grab deems acceptable. According to a report by CNN, drivers who exceed the 5% set acceptable cancellation rate will be suspended from the company’s incentive programs; those who exceed 10% will face graver sanctions. This follows Cu’s announcement that Grab has sanctioned over 500 Grab drivers over unjustified cancellations.
Those are all the facts as of this writing. Here are my two cents:
Grab is in a unique position to express whether it’s truly for the people or just another for-profit corporate baddie. They can contort as the constitution will allow them to be, but as the sole service provider in a space that proves to be crucial to Filipinos, they hold a very dear responsibility to do right by us.
As I see it, there are two simple ways Grab can iron its hitches with the government, its drivers, and its frustrated users. First, refine its user experience. I call bull on the fact that the suspension of the increased Php 2 charge has a lot to do with the drivers’ decision to cancel on riders. If profit were the issue, which they point it is, Grab can simply take it out from the hefty cut they take from its drivers, which at the time of this writing sits at 20%. As a corporation that has all but cornered the market, taking a bit from this very substantial percentage seems only fair. Further, I think disclosing the trip’s end-location is okay, but as PBA party-list rep. Jericho Nograles notes, it gives the drivers a reason to cancel. “When drivers see the destination is too far… (he) is in a situation to refuse conveyance, which is against the law,” said Nograles.
Second, on the subject of keeping cancellations at a minimum, the easiest way, to the eyes of a commuter like myself, is penalizing cancellations for both drivers and riders. Uber penalized riders who booked a trip and canceled some minutes after booking, the penalty being 100 pesos. If Grab holds both drivers and riders accountable, there’s a chance that we’d all hold this process more responsibly.
These are, of course, merely suggestions. But from where I stand, the reason why Grab drivers cancel all the time is that Grab lets them. As the only player in this space, I think Grab should stop pleasing everyone and start making firm decisions that will benefit both its drivers and its riders.