Amid increasing consumer complaints about cab cancellations or not wanting to switch on the AC on ride-hailing platforms, Uber on May 19 announced a slew of measures, including fare hikes, showing trip destinations and mode of payment upfront to drivers and extra earnings for longer drives, to combat the problem.
“The Uber experience hasn’t been as magical as we would like lately – for drivers and riders alike. So, over the last few months we have been in a hyper listening mode, trying to understand the issues and the root causes. We have also been doing a lot of testing and experimentation,” Nitish Bhushan, Head of Central Operations, Uber India & South Asia, told The Hindu
Mr. Bhushan stated that cancellations have been a problem since the mid of last year and the company had been testing new features on the app to help resolve these issues. “We are rolling out four very key big features for our driver partners, which will hopefully make it much easier for them and that can then translate that into better experience for the riders.”
To mitigate the impact of the hike on fuel prices, over the past few weeks, the company had raised fares in the range of 10-15% across cities to boost driver earnings a trip.
Uber would now show trip destinations to drivers before they decided to accept the ride to do away with the “dreaded question: ‘ Jana Kahan Hai’ (where do you want to go?)” followed by cancellation of the trip. The feature was live across 20 cities and would be expanded to all others.
Mr. Bhushan explained that upfront showing of destination – which was a big demand from riders, was not as straightforward in implementation as it seemed.
“When we started experimenting with this, we saw that when you are showing the destination to driver partners… driver cancellations and calls to riders asking for destination goes, but it has unintended consequences on some other aspects of the experience. For example, the ETAs for both the riders and drivers go up… because as you start showing destination, drivers accept fewer trips, which means first drivers do not accept it… it goes to second who is farther away and they to the third and so on. In some localities, you can not even get to car number 2,” he observed.
Hence, the company had added a predefined trip acceptance threshold for drivers to see the destination. “This means that drivers who have in their last 10 trips accepted three trips and completed them, they can see the destination. This threshold could vary from city to city,” he said.
Noting that drivers understandably did not like having to drive out of their way to pick up passengers, he said that Uber had also introduced additional earnings for drivers in case they have to travel a long distance to pick up riders. “Drivers will be able to see the earnings for long pick-ups, separately displayed on the fare receipt.”
Further, given drivers’ demand for more flexibility around payments, the company would now show drivers the mode of payment (cash or online) before the trip started. “Going a step further to make the cash or online decision irrelevant, we’ve now introduced a daily pay process for drivers. This will ensure that trip earnings from Monday to Thursday, are credited to drivers the next day, while earnings from Friday to Sunday, are credited on Monday,” he added.