The announcement of the new minimum Acceptance Rating (AR) criteria for all Grab drivers caused much shock and discontent. Grab drivers started showing their displeasure on social media and were the topic of the day when drivers gathered for their breaks.
Keyboard warriors are quick to point the finger at Private-Hire Drivers for being too picky about the jobs assigned and should be glad that there are jobs for them. These people see private-hire drivers as earning high fare for every single trip and do not have a clue on what is happening.
The problem with Grab
Grab is the only company that allows the driver to see the destination and fare upfront.
While some drivers pursue the incentives religiously, many others have given up due to the strict qualifying criteria. Many drivers make use of the ability to see the upfront fare and destination to adopt a cherry-picking driving strategy, sacrificing the weekly incentives.
As a result of cherry-picking, Grab riders have long been complaining that it is difficult for them to book a ride. That is where Grab decides to impose the minimum 30% Acceptance Rating.
Why is it hard to maintain Acceptance Ratings
Childseat rule – Riders who are travelling with infants and young children are still booking JustGrab instead of child-friendly service GrabFamily or the taxi, which is exempted from the child seat rule. Some of them even blatantly put it upfront in their remarks.
There have been many instances where riders would refuse to cancel the trip as they insist that they have mentioned up front and driver should not have taken if they are not allowed to pick. Trip requests like this are common and badly affect the acceptance ratings.
Root cause of the problem
The root cause of the problem stems from the price war between Uber and Grab. Both companies were aggressively wooing riders with promo codes and lowering their fares to compete between themselves and also against the taxi companies.
Pros – The promo codes and price war was effective as it built up a significant pool of riders as they found private-hire service to be cheaper than taxis.
Cons – The price war brought about lower fare for all drivers. Drivers had to drive more to earn the same amount of earnings. In the initial stages, drivers were compensated with incentives that were sufficient to cover the reduction of income through the fare reduction. As time passes by, drivers faced reducing incentives as the fare reduction starts to set in and the companies gradually reduced the incentives once the pain is reduced.
The introduction of car-pooling services
The introduction of a brand new concept of car-pooling was a hit with many riders. UberPool and GrabShare presented an option to save more. The car-pooling service offers riders up to 30 to 40% lower fares than a regular UberX or JustGrab ride.
With fares already reduced, a further 30 to 40% off regular fares is unbearable for many drivers.
The reduction in fare through price cut and carpooling services pushed many drivers to the edge where they gave up on their weekly incentives and pursue a strategy where they cherry-pick their trips. They would go only for the high fares and ignore the low fare trips.
Flexibility and Freedom no more?
With the new acceptance rating requirement, Grab drivers have lost the flexibility and freedom to drive on the road. They have only 2 choices, take all job requests and be rewarded with the weekly incentives or give up your incentives and choose your trips but remember to meet your KPI of 30%.