Arif Asyraf, the president of the 300-strong Grab Drivers Malaysia Association, said the new policy was something that has been requested by drivers for a long time.
"We feel good about the cancellation fee. It's something that drivers have been asking for Grab Malaysia to implement," he said when contacted.
According to Arif, 36, the cancellation fee is meant to discipline some riders who take advantage of the services that Grab drivers provide. He said riders only get charged a fee of RM3 to RM5 if they cancel five minutes after a booking has been made.
The charges depend on the type of vehicle that the passenger has ordered.
"In the past, there are drivers who have spent around five to 10 minutes to get to a pick-up point only to find out half-way or when they arrived that the rider has cancelled. The driver has wasted his or her time on the road and has to wait for another pick-up from a different passenger."
He added: "Now drivers will get compensated between RM3 to RM5, but they could have earned more from a successful pick-up."
He also said that riders tend to cancel after finding out that a driver is stuck in traffic.
"A driver who wants to earn money will continue working despite terrible traffic condition. There are riders who tend to cancel on drivers after being told that they are stuck in traffic. We understand that some riders can't afford to wait for too long but they could be more sympathetic when they know the driver is already on the way," he said.
Then there's the no-show fee where a rider can be charged between RM3 to RM5 after a driver has waited for more than five minutes at the pick-up point.
According to a Passenger No-Show guideline by Grab, the driver must indicate that he or she has arrived by tapping on the "I've Arrived" button to inform the passenger.
The driver can only cancel while he or she is still at the pick-up point. The Grab Driver app will not allow the driver to cancel if he or she has driven off from the pick-up point.
"There are riders who have made drivers wait up to 20 minutes after arriving at the pick-up point. If you want to know why, it's because the rider could still be showering or getting ready when the Grab arrived," Arif said.
Adrin Shamsudin, 40, was a Grab driver for one year before quitting six months ago because he felt the incentives was no longer attractive. After seeing some of the criticism from members of the public on Grab’s new cancellation fee, Adrin felt compelled to speak up.
“I sympathise with my fellow drivers. They don’t get to earn as much anymore after Grab tightened some of the incentives policy. I feel that Grab Malaysia is only introducing the cancellation fee now because they need to keep current drivers happy. I believe in July, the company is set to lose a lot of part-time drivers,” he said.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that e-hailing services drivers are required to get a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license by July 12. It will cost RM115 to renew the fee annually.
Drivers are also required to attend a RM200 six-hour course at designated driving institutions before getting the PSV licence.
Drivers with cars who are more than three years old are also required to undergo inspection at Puspakom at least once a year.
“As a Grab driver, I’ve encountered passengers with terrible attitudes. Some would bring food to eat in the car. Some passengers with friends will make multiple bookings on their own devices. They do that just to see which driver will arrive first and then get in that vehicle. They are basically wasting the time of other drivers who are on their way for the same booking,” Adrin said.
“Some drivers shared that they’ve met riders who would give them a one-star rating just because they are driving a local car. It seemed that some users would be happier if the driver arrives in a Honda or a Toyota. It’s upsetting for drivers because a low rating will affect their incentives,” he added.
Shahradzman Jalaluddin, a 22-year-old student and part time Grab driver, explained that some drivers do not cancel because they are afraid that it will affect their rating. Drivers who consistently cancel or get passengers to cancel without valid reasons will receive multiple warnings before getting suspended or banned from Grab.
“I myself will rather wait for a passenger for more than five minutes if I have to. In my time as a Grab driver, I rarely cancel,” said Shahradzman who has been driving with Grab for two years.
Arif hopes that more riders will be more sympathetic towards a Grab driver's predicament.
“Since the cancellation fee came into effect this week, drivers are seeing less waiting time and better pick-ups. I believe some riders are not cancelling as much as they like to anymore.”
Adrin said most riders should not worry about the cancellation fee.
“If you’re someone who is ready to go before you book a ride and be on time at the pick-up point, then the driver has no reason to collect a cancellation fee from you.”
In the future, Arif said he hopes Grab Malaysia will introduce a policy for drivers to rate the passenger for their behaviour during a ride. The customer rating measure has long been implemented by other ride hailing services like Uber. A customer with a low rating will have to wait longer for another driver to pick up their booking.
“If there is a rider with consistent disciplinary issues then Grab should flag this person for other drivers to take note. In turn, both drivers and riders will depend on each other to ensure they both can continue to enjoy the services provided by Grab,” he said.
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