Drivers of ride hailing services in Pakistan fleecing passengers


ISLAMABAD: The much hailed and welcomed ride-sharing services in Pakistan are now falling flat due to the captains’ deceitful tactics in a bid to mint extra bucks from customers.

The two well-known ride-hailing services Careem and Uber seem to be losing their grounds in just a couple of years of being on the road as the public’s notion of being scammed by them is strengthening with each passing day.

“These services are not a single click away service even in the centre of the Federal Capital. You book a ride and your wait ends in frustration as it gets cancelled and you have to look for another option because waiting for 20 minutes for a destination that is 10 minutes away is not worth it,” said a once satisfied customer and current critic, Ijaz Anwar, who daily commutes from Lalazar in Rawalpindi to Islamabad.

Transfer and cancellation of rides are smartly manipulated by their captains all the time, especially during peak hours. Additionally, if a captain is in Islamabad, he is not willing to go to Rawalpindi and vice versa,” said a citizen Sarmad Ali, corroborating exactly the same statements given by many other customers.

“The ultimate sufferers are always the clients as they are charged against their will and fault because the captains tell them to cancel the ride instead of cancelling it themselves,” he said while adding that one has to call on the help centre to rectify the charges which is a nerve-testing and time wasting exercise.

“My captain never cancels my ride now as I have played with them smartly by feeding my name as a girl in Careem’s logging account,” disclosed Zeeshan, an employee of the District Courts.

“Female clients are preferred by the captains and drivers which is very obvious,” he added.

All citizens who spoke to APP alleged that a majority of traditional taxi drivers registered with the cab-hailing services after seeing their success but they were accustomed to their dirty old tricks, behaviour and ethics which were leading the ride-sharing services to a dead end. “Uber does not screen its captains properly, giving a free pass to goons and untrained captains who will prove to be the end of these services,” the people warned.

“The maximum number of rides are more important for the captains/drivers as compared to satisfied customers and with this approach, nothing can stop them from falling from the grace,” they said.

“Many times, drivers start a ride before reaching the destination,” complained journalist Khalid Awan who uses the services regularly.

Other citizens revealed that many captains on Careem resort to intentionally missing U-turns and taking longer routes despite the customer’s resistance once they come to know that customer is using a credit card or package, while some go as far as shamelessly showing previously saved screenshots of high bills, telling customers that there must be some malfunction with their App.

A well-educated driver of Careem, on condition of anonymity, said their business was known as a so-called sharing economy but a majority of the vehicles were owned by captains, who were offered only chicken feed by the company. “No fair pay structure, no life insurance, no hotline, no employment status is offered and in comparison, the companies are getting a lion’s share,” he said.

However, it was confirmed that Careem provides a hotline for both captains and customers.

Responding to public concerns, Careem’s Head of Communication Madiha Qureshi said, “We are accessible through different channels and public complaints are entertained at the earliest by our care and contact team”.

The automated rating system used by companies, she said, was the best public feedback to judge the captains’ professional dealing and behaviour. “We are improving with each passing day due to an effective accountability system and our aim has always been to make Careem the safest form of transportation in any country,” Madiha claimed.

Uber Operations Specialist Ahsan Tahir, replying to public complaints about Uber’s pathetic response to complaints said, “No leniency is shown against a partner/driver when a complaint is made. Our jury calls both the complainant and defendant, making a decision that is in the best interest of the public and company”.

He, however, admitted that drivers were reluctant to book a ride from Rawalpindi to Islamabad due to traffic congestion for which the company had added Rs70 to each ride and Rs200 as airport charges due to which drivers were picking up rides now.

On vehicle-drivers’ insurance, he said that the drivers were offered up to Rs0.5 million in a case of death, but Uber had asked them to get their vehicles insured on their own cost as most partners were owners of their vehicles.

However, it is safe to say that the wrath and dissatisfaction of the public, which had taken a sigh of relief on the introduction of the ride-hailing service after being exploited by the traditional taxi drivers, is a fair warning to them to shape up or ship out.