Grab: Cancellation fee only for passengers who ‘intentionally abuse’ service

Grab Malaysia head (operations) Rashid Shukor conducts a briefing on its Passenger Cancellation Policy at its offices in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya March 22, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Grab Malaysia head (operations) Rashid Shukor conducts a briefing on its Passenger Cancellation Policy at its offices in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya March 22, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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PETALING JAYA, March 22 — Grab Malaysia today sought to clarify its newly-introduced Passenger Cancellation Policy, saying that the fee only applies to passengers who “intentionally abuse” the platform.

Its Malaysian Head of Operations Rashid Shukor told a press conference today that those who abuse the platform only make up around 0.5 per cent of its users in the country daily and it is unlikely that responsible users will even encounter the problem.

“The policy that we have for passenger cancellation is really intended to curb intentional abuse of cancellation. We have observed through our data an increasing trend of late cancellation or no-shows. To give context to this issue, it is affecting a very small number of our overall bookings.

“About 0.5 per cent of our bookings daily are cancelled late, or passengers don’t show up. These are the ones we are targeting with this policy, not the vast majority of our users. We will be tough against any intentional abuse of our system, from any party, drivers or passengers,” said Rashid.

In this context, late cancellation means passengers who cancel after five minutes of receiving Grab’s notification of matching them with a driver. Cancellation before the five-minute mark will not incur any penalty.

The penalty ranges from RM3 to RM5 depending on the service that the passenger has ordered. For GrabCar, GrabTaxi (metered or executive) and JustGrab for Airport the cancellation fee is RM3.

Services such as six-seater GrabCar or 10-seat JustGrab will incur RM4 cancellation fee while top end services such as GrabCar Premium or GrabCarLuxe is RM5.

However, Rashid explained that passengers can cancel without incurring any fee if the driver has not arrived within 10 minutes after the supposed estimated time of arrival (ETA) mark.

“Say you book a ride and we matched you with a driver at 12pm with your ETA at 12.03pm. You can still cancel your booking without incurring the penalty fee from 12pm to 12.05pm. That’s a big window.

“If you continue waiting and your driver does not show up after 12.13pm, which is 10 minutes after your 12.03pm ETA, you can cancel without incurring any cancellation fee. In this scenario, you will only be charged if you cancel between 12.05pm and 12.13pm,” said Rashid.

Another penalty that the passengers will incur is for no-show or late passengers.

This is targeted for passengers who do not show up beyond the five-minute mark after the driver they ordered has arrived at the pick-up location. The same RM3 to RM5 fee applies.

According to Rashid, if the driver has arrived and notified the passenger and waited for five minutes or more, the driver has the right to cancel the ride and the penalty will be charged to the passenger.

For both cases, the entire fee will be used to compensate the driver and Grab will not take a single sen of the penalty.

“Although 0.5 per cent of our total passengers per day is a small amount, it still numbers in the thousands, affecting thousands of our drivers every day. We are implementing this to protect our drivers from irresponsible passengers.

“Some of the complaints we received is that when the driver arrives and notifies the passengers, they are either late or even worse, they don’t even show up and are not responsive to the driver’s messages or phone calls.

“These are the ones who will incur the no-show penalty if the driver decides to cancel the ride. These drivers have used their fuel and wasted their time when they could have gotten jobs somewhere else and made some money,” he said.

Grab has two methods of implementing the penalty on the passenger. For cashless transactions, Grab will simply deduct from the passenger’s e-wallet. For cash transactions, the passenger will have to pay the penalty to a Grab driver the next time they successfully completed a Grab ride.

However, there is also a first-time waiver on the cancellation fee. Similarly, if a passenger had a genuine emergency or reason to cancel their ride, Grab allows them a refund if they make a special request on the application’s Help Centre.

For all refund transactions, Grab will return the value in the form of promo codes.

At the same time, Rashid said Grab’s machine learning algorithm can also detect passengers who try to abuse the special request system.

“Say you get penalised; you write in and say the penalty was unjust. The first time we will reimburse you.

“The second time (this happens) we will look into it. But if we see repeated patterns and behaviours where there may be people who try to take advantage of this — genuinely intentional bad users with abusive behaviour... once we see that pattern, we may not give you a reimbursement anymore,” said Rashid.

He then gave assurances that the company will also monitor and penalise bad drivers — ranging from bad key performance indicators to being outright banned from the app.

The cancellation policy begins on Monday.  

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