We love Uber (and Ola, basically a replica). We love how they have allowed us to actually use cabs in the capital city where earlier you won’t dare to because of unreasonable pricing. We love how the service is available even we step outside a lounge at 1 AM. We also love how we don’t have to carry cash or hassle over change. On top of all that, we love how they are getting people to share vehicles to minimise costs and reduce congestion in cities.
However, there are many things we don’t like. Some of them are flaws in processes and some have emerged because of how desperately the two players are trying to cover ground. Here is a list:
To keep the service running effectively and ensure availability in peak hours, the cab companies incentivise their drivers. Do N number of trips between x AM and y PM and you will get an extra z amount for the day. Sounds good in theory, not so much in practice. The drivers get desperate to achieve the count and cross many lines in the process. They drive recklessly and jump lights so that they can pick that one last passenger to achieve the count. They also create fake requests from other devices and even ask the passengers to help with that.
Because of how the drivers are incentivised, the drivers would deny long distance rides. They prefer rides that end in 25-30 minutes so that they can focus on the count and maximise their incentives. Uber seems to be experimenting with a solution to this as on a recent ride, the driver shared how the incentive system for few drivers is now based on the cost of total rides in the day instead of the number of rides.
Uber or Ola?
You would not find many drivers who work with either Uber or Ola. Some friendly ones would share stories of how they managed to earn incentives on both the platforms the other day. This results in denial of duties on one platform or the other because the driver could already be heading somewhere or trying to increase the count on other.
Drivers will have the weirdest of excuses when they don’t want to go along a certain route. It is a P2P platform and it is understandable. But the companies also have to ensure that service is provided. So it is kind of a tough spot they have to find in between somewhere. Strong-arming the drivers isn’t the best way though. They will have to look for a middle ground.
From what we know, the companies educate their drivers on using the apps. From what we see, they are clearly not doing a good job of it. For a fraction, literacy has a role to play but not as much. Go vernacular to tackle that. Spend longer on training them rather than hanging them out to dry. They should know how to use maps and how your apps add up the tolls and taxes. They should also know their rights when a traveller misbehaves. They should be educated.
Uber has adapted very well to the Indian market with new features and everything. However, in a country where security is a major concern, missing a phone number for support is rather hard to accept. A large number of issues get dropped just because they want you to send everything through a contact form. Ola is no better either. There was (or is) a phone support but even in extreme situations, the support people have little to no power.
What other issues do you think Uber and Ola should look at seriously while we know, the next wave of disruption in automobile industry is on its way?
(With inputs from Akshay Sharma).