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Are Grab’s grace-period cuts for ride-hailing bookings fair to commuters?

Grab Singapore's decision this week to reduce the grace waiting and cancellation period for ride-hailing bookings from five minutes to three minutes triggered an outcry among commuters, with some saying that they will boycott the company.

Grab Singapore's decision this week to reduce the grace waiting and cancellation period for ride-hailing bookings from five minutes to three minutes triggered an outcry among commuters, with some saying that they will boycott the company.

However, private-hire drivers lauded the move, saying that they have come across passengers who make them wait for as long as 10 minutes after they have arrived at the pick-up point.

TODAY readers were equally divided over the issue. Some urged passengers to better manage their time or to book their rides only when they are at a pick-up point, while others said it was common for drivers to be late and questioned why Grab did not penalise them instead.

I only book when I’m ready. To me punctuality is a measure of time management and our upbringing. It also shows that we respect other people’s time and it goes both ways. SYA AJ

This change will be fairer because the service is on demand which means you book only when you need the car. It’s ridiculous for the driver to take five minutes to reach and wait four min 55 sec for the passenger to arrive. That’s close to 10 minutes of waiting already. If they have to drive 20 trips per day, that’s about three hours (taken) from drivers which they could spend resting or with their families… Three minutes is more than enough for you to be ready when you need to book the service. Anything more and compensating for the driver’s time is justifiable. DEE TEE

Sorry to say there are some drivers who are not honest. My boss and I experienced that a few times when the booking status shows (the driver) had arrived but did not. When questioned, they acted “blur” and said it was not their fault. Lucky Grab refunded… There's no solution to this because it depends on both parties. Passengers to be on time. Drivers to be honest. If Grab wants to apply this rule why not make it both ways? ANNIE ONG SIEW LING

Respect your time and others’ time. Why are drivers late? They need to navigate traffic to get to you, right? They generally have more to navigate than the passenger to get to the pickup point, right? They have penalties for cancelling. Time is precious as they need rides for incentives. No drivers like to cancel or delay… Honestly, many passengers are really an entitled bunch. HENG NGEE HAI

How about rewarding customers like me who are always there before the driver? Grab drivers can rate me, and I get a discount or priority? JACKIE LIM

Drivers should mark that they have arrived only when they are really at the pick-up point. There are some drivers who like to press “arrived” but the fact is that they are still not there. NAZID SAID

Every single time I've cancelled after five minutes is when I realise the driver is not moving. An eight-minute wait can turn into 15-20 minutes. It’s unfair to make me pay if I'm in a hurry and need to book another car, not knowing when the driver will actually arrive. ESHA BATISH

As long as the fee goes to drivers I don't mind paying for it since he or she has to wait due to my own personal reasons. LISA JACOB

There are times we waited for more than three minutes then the driver cancelled. Why didn't they compensate us? JANET TAN

It looks like the problem lies in the pickup location. Drivers may not be able to wait as the security guard of the premises may chase them away… If there is a way to increase accuracy of location-based tracking algorithms, I think they could work out even more complex and dynamic pricing strategies to factor good and bad behaviour from both drivers and commuters. NEO WEE WU

Let’s be fair here, if Grab penalises passengers for the waiting time, how about passengers that had to wait for 15 to 20 minutes because the driver is stuck in the traffic or lost their way? MARIE JOHNSON

I cannot argue with this, if Grab and its drivers are reliable. However, many times the app says five minutes but the car doesn’t move and then either it arrives in 10-15 minutes or worse, the driver cancels. As a frequent rider, late arrivals and cancellations are normal. Before anybody talks about “traffic and traffic lights”, let me say that the car is stationary in some remote side road or car park and not moving at all. At the moment, it’s a driver’s market. Supply and demand. They will continue to pick and choose. PRASAD NAIR

All those complaints about drivers arriving late. Please try to drive yourself and see if you can reach your desired place on time. Please take note of the traffic conditions around your area, especially at Ngee Ann City. Every day (traffic) jams. Passengers can see the driver’s location and can still ask, “Why are you not moving? You are nearby?” ZAIDI AHMAD

Madness! And, we can’t reverse-charge Grab for their drivers making us wait. This just suggests that there isn’t enough competition in the market. This close-to-monopoly status of Grab has given it an absolute power to set prices, and this only means that this won’t be the last time we see it setting crazy prices and consumers won’t have a say. XIAOHAO MOK

The Grab app doesn’t allow drivers to click “arrive” when it’s not in the indicated pick-up point according to the GPS. Sometimes it’s due to an error in the GPS positioning. Most condos or basement pick-ups don’t have a signal, even though the driver has arrived it won’t allow the driver to click “arrive”. In such instances, the driver can over-ride and the timer for (the) waiting time won’t be activated. So, even if you come down after five minutes, the waiting fee won’t be automatically added. It’s not fair to penalise the driver for coming late. Most times it’s due to traffic situations. Frequently, the driver’s ETA (estimated time of arrival) on the app is usually not accurate… A reasonable driver will waive the waiting charge if it’s due to unforeseen circumstances. But most times, passengers will book a ride while in their home or office… taking advantage of the waiting time. My advice is to book when you are already at your intended pick-up point. That’s what I always do. And, please check if your pick-up point is correct. Sometimes, when you choose to auto select the GPS may generate a wrong pick-up point. WILLIAM CHONG

Grab has to make sure that drivers click “arrive” only when they have actually arrived at the destination and not while they are still 200-300m away. VICKNESH RAJAMOHAN

I have experienced several occasions when the app showed the driver had arrived but not where I was waiting. The app indicated “arrived” the minute the driver was within the proximity of the pick-up, but the driver still technically had not arrived at the agreed waiting area! How right is this? Does the passenger have to pay for late fees when the driver has not even reached the pick-up area? What about those who are lost in the vicinity of the pick-up area? Are we to be penalised again if the drivers are clueless about where they are? How fair is this to your paying customers? ZARINA ZAKARIA

These comments were first posted to TODAY’s Facebook page. They have been edited for clarity, accuracy and length. If you have views on this issue or a news topic you care about, send a letter to voices [at] with your full name, address and phone number.

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grab ride-hailing public transport penalty waiting time Grab driver

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