Despite assurances, users claim Grab fares creeping up

Some accused the firm of using the elimination of its only serious rival to do away with the price and promotion war it had waged against Uber, ― TODAY pic
Some accused the firm of using the elimination of its only serious rival to do away with the price and promotion war it had waged against Uber, ― TODAY pic

PETALING JAYA, May 19 — Rates at the country’s dominant e-hailing firm Grab have inched up since its acquisition of Uber last month, according to unhappy users venting on social media.

Some accused the firm of using the elimination of its only serious rival to do away with the price and promotion war it had waged against Uber, whose regional business it acquired in March in exchange for a stake in Singapore-based Grab.

Others believe service levels by drivers with the Grab network have also deteriorated as a result of the lack of serious competition.

“Grab did a fare hike before expected uber transition making short trips expensive more income to them. Then super bad service,” wrote Facebook user Amaan Farro on Grab’s page.

“Drivers always cancelling booking. Surging of price is scheduled, not due to no available drivers. Really hoping for better service due to merger but grab failed so hard. Monopoly at its finest!”

Another user calling herself Diana Menggan said she was “totally disappointed” with the service and pleaded for the return of Uber.

Malaysian authorities previously said they would re-examine the deal following Singapore’s conclusion that there was reasonable grounds to believe Grab’s acquisition of Uber would harm competition.

While neither country has been able to ascertain the degree to which competition will be hurt, consumers have quickly decided that the deal would be detrimental to them.

Already more are claiming that the offers Grab uses to entice users to remain with its network have begun to dwindle.

“No more promotional code after Uber secession operation in SEA. It’s time to bring Grab down. And customer will. Definitely look at the other e-hailing platform,” wrote Hom Rissay Iduasneb.

It is unclear which specific code he was referring to, however, as Grab’s loyalty reward points that can be exchanged for fare vouchers of RM3 and more are still available.

Grab user Ng Ze Tong told Malay Mail he “noticed” the rates offered by the company had since gone up.

“By one or two ringgit definitely. It used to cost me RM20 to get from my place in Subang to work in Kerinchi, but since March it has become RM22 during normal hours.

“I cannot tell for sure if it has gone up as the prices vary — it can be double that amount during peak hours — but I definitely feel I am being charged more,” he explained.

Grab previously explained that its rates are determined by an algorithm that takes into account the number of drivers, demand and traffic conditions.

Some drivers told Malay Mail they have heard riders complain of increased fares, but said this did not affect their views of the company.

One 27-year old full-time ride-hailing driver who declined to be named, said he had previously driven for both Grab and Uber, and that it was up to consumers to make the right choices.

“Just like me, I drove for both depending on which service offered more during a given time...I still drive for Grab and will probably register for another service as Uber is gone.

“Riders complain about the high prices, but they agree that Grab is convenient. I told them it is not my decision to set the price and they are free to use competing services if they wish,” he said.

Another 32-year old IT technician who drives part-time on weekends said he sympathised with riders, but said none is forced to use the service if they did not agree with the fare scheme.

Besides Grab there are other ride-hailing services in the country such as MyCar, JomRides, Mula and Dacsee, among others, although none can rival Grab’s network at this point.

The rise of Uber and, then, Grab, has also decimated the taxi networks, especially in the Klang Valley, as cabbies returned their leased vehicles by the thousands after failing to compete with Grab and Uber.

“People are not happy in general about the cost of living but no one is forcing them to use Grab. as for me I’m making my money like this on weekends and I do not set the price, so what do you want me to do?” he said.

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) previously said Grab assured it that its fare structure would not change post-acquisition.

SPAD said it would meet with the Malaysia Competition Commission over the matter.