Hot Take is a column where we give our blunt opinions (or Hot Takes) about technology in Ghana
Rude drivers, drivers falling asleep behind the wheel, sexual assault/harassment reports, physical assault…..
These are just a couple of incidents that some riders have reported on social media about their Uber experiences in Ghana.
It’s been two years (2016) since Uber entered the Ghanaian space. Ghanaians welcomed the ride-sharing platform with open arms. Now, instead of standing by the roadside to hail a taxi and then bargaining for a right price, riders just pull out their phone, hit a button and a few minutes later, a driver arrives at their location to drive them to their destination.
But after the initial fanfare, it looks like Uber has lost a bit of its shine in Ghana. Although negative experiences of taking an Uber in Ghana are not on a national scale, the negativity still plays a factor in how people see the brand.
So here’s my take: Uber should consider leaving the Ghanaian market or else its brand could take a hit.
Using A Card? Trip Cancelled!
When Uber initially launched in the US market, riders could easily pay for trips by attaching their cards to the app and get billed automatically when they complete a trip.
But in places like Ghana, card penetration is not that high as cash still rules supreme. Uber did its research so when they officially launched in Ghana, riders had the option to pay for trips using cash.
Fast forward and it looks like Uber drivers are leaning more on “Cash” than card options. There are lots of reports that Uber drivers in Ghana tend to cancel trips when they find out that their riders are using the “Card” option to pay for trips.
This can be a major turn off for riders to have Uber drivers cancel their trips because they want a convenient way of paying for a ride.
Drivers Behaving Badly
This seems to be a daily occurrence as there are always reports on social media about bad experiences with Ghanaian Uber drivers. I’ve seen reports from women saying that they’ve been sexually harassed to drivers verbally abusing riders.
There have also been reports of drivers falling asleep at the wheel while transporting riders to their destinations.
All in all, it’s not a good look for Uber. While the drivers may not necessarily be employed by Uber directly, it still shows that Uber might not be vetting drivers properly on their platform.
Exit, Stage Right
Although Uber is currently the biggest name when it comes to ridesharing in Ghana, the company might want to tread carefully going into the future.
Uber needs to start doing a Zero Tolerance policy for its drivers. Basically, if a rider complains of physical abuse, sexual harassment or anything that’s above the norm, Uber must respond swiftly and kick the driver off its platform.
Also, Uber must really start to get serious about making sure their drivers know how to use the GPS system on their phones.
Lastly, Uber must figure out a way to stop drivers from cancelling trips of riders who want to use their cards as payment.
These might not be major issues for Uber at the moment but they have to be careful because alternatives are just around the corner. Taxify just slashed the commissions for their drivers down to 10%. That means that Taxify drivers get to take home more money from their trips. Happy drivers mean potentially better customer service in the long term.
If there’s a large exodus of drivers from Uber to Taxify, that would be a bad sign.
Also, more ridesharing platforms want to expand international and if those platforms ever come to Ghana, they’re going to look at the mistakes Uber is making and correct them before hitting the market.
Uber got the headstart when they first launched. But you can’t always be king of the hills. As more reports of drivers behaving badly come up, the net effect could slowly pile up and hurt the brand to the point that people might seek alternatives. It hasn’t happened yet but that doesn’t mean it won’t.
If Uber Ghana can’t keep itself in check, I think Uber should pull out of Ghana for the sake of its brand. Perhaps, they could focus more on their other markets such as Nigeria.
Uber is still a good service to use but it’s slowly becoming a car that’s leaking fuel. If it doesn’t fix its nagging problems, that car could soon run out of fuel and get stranded on the side of the road.