With a promise to ease off commuting hassles for Dhaka dwellers, US ridesharing company Uber started their operations here back in 2017. Initially offering service in Dhaka city only, they are now in Chattogram and Sylhet too. Starting with cars naming Uber X, the company extended its service by launching motorcycle-based ride sharing named Uber Moto. However, customer complaints spiked periodically, which includes fare inconsistency, rough behaviour of the drivers, even sexual abuses.
Dhaka has always been a city of huge traffics; and Uber served a more convenient and a faster transportation for the residents. Users were satisfied, but then came the fare inconsistency. Users understood the breakdown of dynamic fare. But it became intolerable when the platform started showing higher fares at the end of the ride than the initial one shown on the app.
A recent case like this has occurred with Masud Hossain who took a ride from the airport to his residence. The initial fare shown was Tk190 but when the trip ended, astonishingly the fare increased, it was Tk300. He said, "I was surprised seeing the fare. I was not notified earlier about it and as Uber does not have any hotline number till now, I had to complain about it through the app. But still now I have not got any explanation or solution about it. It has not caused me that much trouble but think of the people who are in rush and do not have enough money to pay the extra fare. It will cause them a huge problem."
The Business Standard team approached to Kazi Md Shifun Newaz, Assistant Professor at the Accident Research Institute of BUET regarding the Uber's fare issue. He said, "According to the ride sharing act, the ridesharing companies must have a hotline number so that the users can have immediate support. Users can still put complaints through their app but it is a lengthy process. The replies come after three to four days and in some cases it does not."
"There is also an issue of fare inconsistency. We understand the dynamic fare and the methodology of calculating fare of Uber but sometimes at the end of the ride different fare pops up and the users have to pay the extended fare. It is a hassle, and Uber must use updated technology and algorithms to calculate its fare so that there is no fare breakdown at the end," he added.
Amid these grievances of the passengers, Dhaka Ridesharing Drivers Union and Bangladesh Ridesharing Drivers Association called the strike on Sunday to protest against "different irregularities". They have eight demands from Uber. Their demands are, fixing fare per kilometre and minute from the begging to end of every trip; reducing Uber's commission to 12 percent from 25 percent, raising fare due to a hike in gas prices, arranging trips near destinations under the 'Destination' option in the app, ensuring security of the drivers. Along with the demands directly to Uber, they also had service-related demands. Those include—arranging compensation if passengers cause damage to vehicles; taking no action against the drivers without investigating passenger complaints; making it compulsory for passengers to provide own image in their Uber accounts; arranging initial training for passengers on location; and putting a ceiling of two kilometres on maximum distance between the drivers and passengers.
Some of their demands are very valid, while some of these go totally against the users' interest. For example, raising the fare would be a massive problem and training the users about location will be a nearly impossible as the number of Uber users is pretty high.
TBS tried to reach the Uber authority through their PR agency regarding the fare issues, they said, "In certain cases the rider's initial fare may change if a rider adds stops, updates their destination, or the route changes significantly. When this happens, a rider's final payable fare may change. The fare receipt at the end of the trip will give the trip fare breakdown, which explains how the new fare was calculated. Our app also has a simplified redressal mechanism for claiming refunds. In fact, if a rider feels that they have been wrongly charged, the rider can seek help on the app from their trip history."
The users of the ridesharing industry want nothing but a hassle-free ride. An abrupt increase in fare may cause more troubles than the existing ones. With users' trust, and the platform's appeal at stake, Uber should be upfront for bringing resolutions.