Online Cab-Hailing, The big swindle

By: | Muhammad Ali Azlan |

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I have been pushed to write this article after detailed interviews with at least 8 cab hailing service ‘captains’ and listening to their grievances.

The metropolis has been plagued with a dearth of public transport for a few decades now, one of the largest countries in the world and the biggest and most populated city of Pakistan, Karachi has been very unfortunate with regards to transportation and commuting options.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing the news that the successful idea of online cab hailing services was finally making an entry in the lucrative Pakistani market, with the advent of the controversial 3G and 4G services being rendered by cellular companies in Pakistan, companies were confident to launch ventures reliant on Mobile data services to operate according to their full capacities.

Co-founded by a Pakistani, Mudassir Sheikha, and Magnus Olsson, Founder and MD, Careem began operations in the UAE in 2012.

Careem started toying with the idea of launching in Pakistan in early 2015, and various pilots were run that year. It was officially launched in March 2016.

In the beginning their focus was on providing luxury transportation to a niche audience with deep pockets who could afford, after careful observation and in due time, careem launched a category based system in their cars which now also caters motorcycles and Mehran’s given the influx of demand and the basic business principle of ‘Supply and Demand’.
It was all going well in the beginning, the captains were happy and so were the clients, with increasing demand and competition now also creeping up on the horizon in the shape of Uber and domestic ride hailing options, companies started to detract from their once golden principal of customer satisfaction.

Uber the corporate giant and a trailblazer around the globe had now entered the market and was offering cheaper rates and better rewards to both the captains and the clients, Given the dynamics of the difficult city that Karachi is, there were minor hiccups but with time Uber and Careem managed to stake a massive claim on the transportation void of the city and the country as a whole.
Then started the dark days, being an avid user of both uber an careem for my daily commutes, A big chunk of my monthly salary is devoted to my traveling expenditure, but I manage, I make a budget, but… the budget goes down the drain when you see nuisances known as “Peak Factors” and “Surges” which to my estimation have no set pattern, mechanism or algorithm but rather is only reliant on the behest of the company which executes and sets a benchmark for the hiked fares according to there whims and wishes.

Careem captains nowadays are in dismay, they complain about company policy, they have claimed that the peak factor is just a mean for the company to increase its own profit margins whereas the naive client/customer think that the captain is making a heap of extra money with the ludicrous and ridiculous peak factors and surges.
The captains complain about their bonuses being scrapped by the company, how the multi-million dollar and Billion dollar franchises take upto 25% off of each ride, which climbs up to a commission of 45% when the ‘peak factor or a surge’ is put into action.

In the beginning no such fee was charged from the captains and the companies earned through their apps only but now when their feet have taken roots in Pakistan, they are now sucking the common man in search for a comfortable means of earning and commuting dry, peak factors ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 are now a norm and wait till Eid gets closer, the peak factors will go through the roof and there is nothing you or anyone could do about it.
We as customers are indebted to the services being rendered but it is appalling to see that a successful venture is now being turned into a money making gimmick only, disregarding their primary principals of keeping their employees and customers happy.

Countless articles have been written on the subject, many more will follow but as is the norm in Pakistan, We are a nation of thick skinned stubborn, apathetic individuals who are corrupt to the core, corruption needs to be quarantined.
With temperatures reaching new blistering heights in Pakistan due to environmental concerns, the only convenient option to travel is now becoming a menace.

I urge the heads of the companies to take note and fall back on their policy of greed, rather than running disgusting ‘promos’ promising us 100 and 50rs off our rides for up to ten rides with a promo expiration date of two days at the most, who in the blue hell takes 10 car rides in two days? Are you trying to insult your clients, you think we are unable to see through this facade?
To adjust for multiple fuel price increases in recent months, Careem has raised its rates in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

In an email sent to customers, the company said: “With multiple fuel price hikes, there has been a direct and indirect impact on our Captains’ cost of doing business. Captains are the driving force which enable safe, affordable and comfortable mobility for customers.

In light of the above, we have implemented a cost adjustment in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to ensure your Captains continue to serve you while fostering their livelihood. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us and continue to provide a reliable service.

New Rates for Careem in Pakistan (Karachi):

Karachi:
• GO:
o Starting: Rs. 75
o Minimum: Rs. 100
o Moving – per km: Rs. 10
o Waiting – per hour: Rs. 253

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• GO+:
o Starting: Rs. 110
o Minimum: Rs. 250
o Moving – per km: Rs. 12
o Waiting – per hour: Rs. 275

• Business:
o Starting: Rs. 160
o Minimum: Rs. 250
o Moving – per km: Rs. 23
o Waiting – per hour: Rs. 370

• Tezz:
o Starting: Rs. 15
o Minimum: Rs. 49
o Moving – per km: Rs. 15
o Waiting – per hour: Rs. 75

• Bike:
o Starting: Rs. 30
o Minimum: Rs. 50
o Moving – per km: Rs. 5
o Waiting – per hour: Rs. 200

 

Do the maths, these are some of my own personal screenshots, All I demand from the company is fairness, why can’t there be fixed rates without surges and peaks, no discount codes, keep your customers and employees both happy and willing to comply, use your services and work for you.

May Karachi one day get good alternatives so that the transport Mafia can loosen their grip on the middle class and upper middle class.

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