My 3 Most Interesting Uber / GrabCar Rides

I’m sure you’ve taken an Uber or GrabCar at least once in your life.

Even though Singapore is mighty tiny and we have a well-established public transport system, Singaporeans still love the comfort of a car ride. 😬

And despite already earning my car license (oh, thank God… FINALLY), I still use Uber or GrabCar a fair bit.

Simple logic; like most Singaporeans – I don’t have my own car.

I get to share my loving boyfriend’s car… 😉 But it’s not mine to use 100% of the time.

Plus sometimes other drivers on the road are just plain mean… 😔 So driving becomes a real chore.

Once I was road-bullied so bad, I literally just pulled up at a random road shoulder and started bawling my eyes out about how diabolical the world is, and how God should just bring about another flood because that rude BMW made me cause a dent on my cute car! 😡 😭
*Well… to add to this, I didn’t have time to eat anything that day and was also on my period… So emotions were on an all-time high there, people!

Ahem.
I digress.

So the point is – I use Uber / GrabCar a fair bit.
I’m not a Platinum on Grab yet though… but think I should be getting there? 😃

Being so, I’ve had my fair share of interesting rides

#1 The Talk-Until-The-Cows-Come-Home Driver

While I think that services like Uber and GrabCar are just AMAZING… I’d really appreciate if there’s a box that I can tap on that says,
“Tap here if you want your driver to not talk to you.”

Generally when people talk to me, I respond politely.
I think I’m nice that way. 😌

However I’m only human – and there are days when I have the words “F**K OFF” practically inked on my face.

So one day, I ended work pretty late.
By late, I mean 1AM.

Needless to say, I was exhausted.
Thoroughly… 100%-ly… absolutely… DEAD BEAT.

So all I really wanted more than anything in the world, was to just get into a car/taxi… Close my eyes till I get home… then throw myself on the bed and conk out.

But life doesn’t always give you what you want (or even need, in my case).

Once I got into the car… Yup, you guessed it.

Yadda yadda… Blah blah blah… Lalala…

That was all my brain was able to comprehend after some point.

Talking Driver: Wow, you just got off work? It’s so late!

Me: Yup.

Talking Driver: You must be tired!

Me: REALLY tired…

Talking Driver: Uncle already had dinner, took a nap and had supper – then you finish work!!!

Yes, wanker. I got that I finished work at an unorthodox hour which seemed incomprehensible to you at that moment – but if that were the case, it would’ve been basic logic to realise I was in no shape for any form of conversation whatsoever.

My eyes were literally half closed and at some point, I stopped making the polite, “Uh-huh” and kept quiet… because I was practically asleep.

But he just KEPT TALKING!!!

Even when we got to my destination, he turned around and continued talking about God-knows-what

I felt bad because he was probably lonely or trying to stay awake at that hour (albeit he looked like he had a gallon of caffeine injected into him)…

Hmm!!! Maybe that’s why he was soooo high… 😨

#2 The Scary MLM Driver

Now, I’ve taken Uber / GrabCar rides driven by property agents… insurance agents… startup entrepreneurs… that would try to make a sales pitch during the ride.

I never found any foul in that – as long as they respected that I had the right to say ‘no’.

However this particular driver really went too far

During the entire ride, he went on and on about how liberating he finds his job! That he had the flexibility to even drive Uber / GrabCar to earn extra cash… and how he’s able to spend more time with his family.

And I responded with the occasional, “Wow, sounds great. Good for you! 😊”

I wasn’t lying – I genuinely feel it’s important that someone feels so positive in life.

Then as we were nearing my destination, he insisted that he needed to park the car… Which I felt was odd, but also felt it was dangerous for me to alight from a moving car.

So I just let the dude park.

THEN – IT BEGAN.

He turned around and give me the ‘salesman smile 😁‘. (Don’t ask me to describe what a ‘salesman smile’ is… you just know it when you it)

MLM Driver: So have you thought of doing a job like this yourself?

Immediately – it clicked in my head.
Ah, that’s why he was raving about his work. Part of it involves recruitment, apparently.

Me: No, I’m good. Thanks.

MLM Driver: Don’t you want to have more time and money on your hands?? a great company to work for!

Me: I’m not interested in MLM. Thanks.

Was already very annoyed, so I reached out to open the door.
BUT he quickly LOCKED the doors!!! 😱 😱

I was VERY taken aback!! And as a female, a little frightened…

MLM Driver: Think about it! You’re young, you’re pretty… you can do so many things!!

That was when I get pissed. 😠

I sat back, crossed my legs, glared at him and frowned. (Must’ve watched too many movies)

Me: You’re right. I can do soooo many things… Do you want to begin by thinking what I’m going to do to YOU for locking me in your car by force?

And ended that sentence by raising one eyebrow.

Yup – I really watch too many movies/drama series.

He quickly apologised, unlocked the door and bid me farewell.

No, I didn’t lodge a complaint. You’d think I should’ve, because he could do it to other people too… but at that moment when I pondered about it – it seemed like he was in a desperate situation.

And I just couldn’t bring myself to lodge a complaint against someone who seemed to be at his wits end. 😔

#3 The Swearing Driver

This is, by far, my favourite. 😆

No, the driver wasn’t rude or anything. In fact, he was just downright entertaining.

It was a Saturday and I was running late to attending a friend’s wedding dinner. I had a loooong week and it was another tiring day. 😖 Just couldn’t catch a break, even on a weekend.

He was really friendly as soon I was boarded his car.

Swearing Driver: You’re going for a dinner?

Me: Yup.

Swearing Driver: But you don’t look so happy!!

Me: Just had a rough week – really tired.

Then he tried by cracking a few jokes here and there. Which I obliged by laughing to, even though I didn’t really listen…

Then suddenly the song “I Swear” was playing in the car, and he went…

“Uncle’s favourite song!!!”

And at the top of his lungs, he sang, “I SWEARRRR~~~ BY THE MOOOOONNNN AND THE SSSSTARRRSSS IN THE SKYYYYY~~~

😂 😂 😂

5 stars??

Heck, no. GIVE THE MAN 6 STARS!!!

Of course not everyone appreciates a singing-induced ride… Some people might just go, “Swear, simi??? Swear 你的老人头啦(your old person head – I don’t think it makes sense translated)!

To all Uber / GrabCar drivers out there who work so hard on the roads – thank you so much! 😊 There are times when I’m infinitely grateful to have such a great service at my fingertips and I’ve met some of you awesome drivers who make the ride so much fun!

Sure, there will always be a few black sheep around… but most Uber / GrabCar drivers I’ve had the privilege of riding with were nice people with warm smiles. 💛

If you’re a passenger, I urge you to be nice to the drivers. It’s super tiring driving around for hours on the road with other rude drivers, whilst trying to perfectly navigate to places they’re probably not even familiar with.

Trust me – now that I just got my license and trying to work those driving-muscles… It’s unimaginably exhausting.

You’d think that by sitting on a chair, pressing some pedals and turning a steering wheel won’t be that physically demanding.

Well, I got news for you, buddy.

Driving around for hours on end isn’t just physically exhausting – it’s also MENTALLY taxing. All the focus you need to give the roads (assuming that you’re one of those good people on the roads that actually don’t want an accident to happen), and the constant planning on which exit to take, which lane to be in…

And whenever you change lanes, you don’t always get to change lanes! Many drivers in Singapore aren’t very nice. 😔

So, please be nice to GrabCar and Uber drivers! Sure, they sometimes don’t deliver a great ride – but the primary thing is that you got a convenient mode of transport and got to your destination safely, yes?

For that, you have loads to already be thankful for.

So since we’re enjoying that bit of comfort in an air-conditioned car, we can spare that bit of kindness in being nice to the owner of the car, yes? 😉

XOXO, G. 

Traditional taxis need to start learning from GrabCars and Ubers

Lesser than 5 years ago, Singapore’s public mode of transports were the trains, buses and taxis. Pretty much like any other developed city in the world.

Today, customers have the option to book a GrabCar or an Uber.

Uber Grab
Image Credit: http://www.gadgetren.com

For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with the concepts of GrabCar and Uber; it’s a booking platform that enables car drivers to get passengers like they would in taxi bookings. It’s basically commercialising their own private mode of transport for cash.

Which is actually a brilliant idea! And people loved the idea of being able to earn the extra buck, or some of them made it a full-time job for themselves.

However tension sparked when taxi drivers found that GrabCar and Uber drivers were threatening their rice bowls. And in full honesty, I worry for them as well. But I don’t advocate the whining and just expecting all this to stop – taxi drivers shouldn’t take for granted that they have the monopoly of commercialised car transport in Singapore.

And I’m sure many people will agree with me on this – taxi drivers have taken customers for granted in the past. Simply because if you want a comfortable air-conditioned car to yourself, or need to get somewhere in a hurry and you don’t have your own car; you need their taxi service.

Let me give you an example.

Last time I was waiting for a taxi at HarbourFront Centre, and thought it should be pretty fast. There were streams of taxis around, it was a sea of blue (ComfortDelGro) and yellow (CityCab). However to my horror, there was still a looong taxi queue! No taxis were coming forward!

Why?

The taxis didn’t want to be ‘flagged down’; they were waiting for people to book taxis so they can earn the extra booking fee.

It was quite blatant. I saw some people clearly in a huge hurry and just started calling for a taxi. Then the taxi right in front changed his sign to “On Call” and drove around to pick up the passenger. IT WAS RIDICULOUS!

And it wasn’t the only time. It became a norm that such things happen with taxis; and they were no longer a reliable mode of transport at touristy areas or during peak hours. Simply because they weren’t willing to be flagged down.

Sometimes even booking the taxi itself was an utter nightmare! Before the phone app was created, calling in was a tiring process on its own. 😫

Another experience I had was when I was in Holland Village and wanted to take a taxi ride to Commonwealth. The distance is super short and will cost me about S$5. I was lugging some heavy stuff then, and taking the bus would be a nightmare.

I was at the taxi stand in front of Cold Storage and it was my turn to board the taxi. After I got on the taxi with my shitload of barangs (baggage) and told the driver my destination, he actually told me to get out! “Too near lah! Don’t want! Don’t want!” And simply refused to drive me, so I had to alight.

The taxi drivers started choosing their customers based on if their destinations; if they found that journey to be adequately profitable.

Once again, IT WAS RIDICULOUS!!! The uncle clearly saw my bulky bags, and common sense will tell you that’s why I needed to take a taxi. Not because I’m some lazy rich brat who cannot stand a 20 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride.

However to be fair, the taxi behind took pity on me and helped my stuff onto his taxi instead. Which was really sweet! He did tell me that he would’ve preferred not to take me because he won’t earn much, but could see that I really needed a ride.

SO!

There was clearly a market gap, yes? Consumers needed a more reliable form of car transport, that would bring them where they want to go; without the judgement on if it was worth it for them.

Then Uber came! And I absolutely fell in love with the idea.

Then GrabTaxi came up with GrabCar! It was awesome.

But not everyone loved the idea – taxi drivers and some of the public hated how taxi drivers had to fight for their rice bowl like this. They already had to fight with each other for passengers; now they had additional people to fight with too.

Sure; I’ll admit it’s tough. But I’ll also say this, “You asked for it.”

When taxi drivers started being choosy about their customers, customers started looking for alternatives. And the whole idea of having another alternative gave birth to concepts like Uber and GrabCar being so readily accepted by the public.

I’m not saying that all taxi drivers are bad, I met some really nice ones before; even before GrabCar or Uber came into the picture. However there was no denying that it always lingered at the back of people’s heads, “What if the taxi doesn’t want to take me? How will I get there in time? Is there a better way?

Taxi drivers should rightfully feel threatened that their rice bowl is taking a beating – but instead of being angry about it and trying to shut down the businesses in Singapore, how about learning what they’re doing right.

It’s all super simple.

Taxis have lost touch of their customers; they fail to see that they’re selling an experience. An experience of convenience, via a mode of transport. Much like the brick and mortar businesses; people are readily flocking to e-commerce sites because they don’t see an experience worth buying anymore at brick and mortar shops.

Plus the fact that Uber and GrabCar are price-competitive as well.

9 out of 10 times when I’m in a GrabCar or Uber, I feel absolutely comfortable. (1 out of 10 is usually just average, like a usual taxi ride)

They greet me happily when I board the car and thanks to the app, they also know my name. So it gives a lovely personalised experience. It’s somehow heartwarming to hear a smiling person go, “Good morning, Geraldine! Going to work now?” 😌 “Good evening, Geraldine! Going home after a long day?”

This happens to me probably only 1 out of 10 times when I board the traditional taxi.

And the GrabCar and Uber drivers actually express interest in making my ride as comfortable as possible. Which is an amazing experience for me! And because of this, my automatic first choice when I need a car is always to book a GrabCar or Uber – not a taxi.

And that’s not all – there was once I made a complaint to Uber about the driver taking 20 whole minutes to get to me, even though the app said 8 minutes. I got a reply within that night; telling me they understand how frustrated it must’ve been for me, they apologise and will look into the matter.

Again, I must reiterate – not all taxi drivers are bad. And I’m sorry that they’re taking a beating because of Uber and GrabCar; and I’m also sorry that I’m contributing to it. However please understand from a customer’s point-of-view: it’s not me, it’s you.

Taxi drivers just lost touch with their customers and they ought to see how GrabCar and Uber did what they couldn’t. Otherwise the taxis could be facing dark days ahead and will have no one to blame but their lack of ability to adapt.

XOXO, G. 

Disgusting taxi scam in Hanoi!

Just last week, my friend Arati and I flew to Vietnam for a little girlfriends’ getaway.

We were super excited! Prior to the trip, I didn’t really bother looking for attractions; I was more interested in learning how to survive there.

And an important one that I read was: Only use Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis!

We got to the airport at about 8PM there and didn’t see any Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis, so we asked the airport staff for assistance. And she told us to use any of the airport taxis, they’re okay.

She seemed quite nice 😇, so we decided to trust her.

BIGGEST F**KING MISTAKE OF THE TRIP!!! 😡 😡 😡

First, the taxi driver gave a quote instead of turning on the meter. That was already a huge red flag and I was ready to walk.

Taxi Driver: US$30! 

Us: No. Meter. 

Taxi Driver: US$30!!! 

Us: No. (Was pulling my luggage away)

Taxi Driver: Okay! Okay! US$25!!

Me: No, I said METER. 

Then he very reluctantly agreed. And till now I regretted getting onto the taxi. It was such a horrifying experience!

We should’ve just turned away, but we were tired after the flight and wanted to get to our hotel.

We got onto the taxi and the meter was turned on, but after driving about 3 minutes out, there was a toll booth. And he stopped, telling us we needed to pay 100,000 dong. I read that it was supposed to be absorbed by the taxi company, but thought I could be wrong. I didn’t want to think badly about someone who is trying to earn a living.

So we gave him 100,000 dong.

Then he drove up to the toll booth. Showed his taxi ID and drove off!!!! He didn’t even have to pay the toll! What the royal f**k! Within 10 minutes of seeing the country I was already abhorring it.

And I kept on eyes on the movement of the meter – just as I read; the ‘non-legit’ taxi companies’ meters move at the speed of light. The meter was jumping at 2,000 dong every 5-8 seconds!!!

Then throughout the journey, he pointed at random buildings lesser than 5 times – telling us their names. Which honestly I didn’t give a flying rat’s ass about, I was already cursing him, his family and entire ancestral line. Hearing him blabber just pissed me off, but I tried to be light-hearted with Arati about it anyway.

We were nearing the hotel area at Old Quarters, and then there was a couple with their luggages standing by the road. This f**ker just stopped the taxi, lowered his window and shouted, “Go airport??”

Arati and I looked at each other, “Wtf?!”

Like, hello royal wanker. WE ARE STILL IN YOUR TAXI AND YOU HAVEN’T EVEN FULFILLED YOUR JOURNEY ON THIS ONE, YOU WANT TO TAKE ANOTHER ONE??

I CURSE YOUR BOWLS OF PHO TOO!!!

Roar.

Then he drove couple of meters down and told us to get off.

Me: This isn’t our hotel! 

Taxi Driver: Inside! Inside! 2 minute! 2 minute! 

I don’t know what is it about these people who cannot speak proper English; they somehow simply love to repeat and shout what they’re saying twice. Like that’s supposed to ease the communication. Him repeating his words just made me repeatedly angry at him.

Me: No, I don’t see it! 

Taxi Driver: Inside!!! 

I knew he wasn’t going to cooperate. So just decided to pay him off. Meter said 367,000 dong, so I took out a 500,000 dong note. It was the smallest I had at that time.

He took it and asked Arati for 70,000 dong more.

Me: Why?!

Taxi Driver: Tourist! 

Me: So you want to cheat my money?? GIVE ME MY CHANGE BACK! 

Taxi Driver: Tourist tour! I give you tour! Tour 200,000 dong! 

Me: That wasn’t a bloody tour! I didn’t even ask for a tour! 

Taxi Driver: No, no! 70,000 dong more! 

Me: No! You want more money? Take 3,000 dong! So give me back 130,000 dong!! 

Usually my mathematical skills aren’t so quick, but somehow at that moment I was so filled with fury and literally wanted to tie a rope with dongs and throttle the guy… I already calculated 3,000 dong to be like S$0.20 anyway.

Taxi Driver: *takes out a 200,000 dong note* This! Tour! I give you! 

Me: You didn’t give me a tour! I didn’t want any bloody tour. Give me back 130,000 dong NOWWWW!!!

Taxi Driver: *makes angry sounds and gives me back 130,000 dong* 

Arati alighted first, and just when I was about to – something told me not to… because he didn’t even open the boot for our luggage and was ready to drive off!!!

What the hell man! How disgustingly low can these people get??

So I opened the door super wide, refused to alight and asked Arati to get the luggages out first. If he wants to drive off with the luggages, I was ready to whack the guy.

We pulled our luggages along and looked for the hotel, but simply couldn’t! We were in a foreign country where almost no one speaks any English – the only ones who did were tourists as well! We asked uniformed officers who gave us all different directions…

From the “2 minute!”, we walked about Old Quarters lugging our luggages for about 60 minutes!

And it started to get dangerous – we spotted some men following us around. One guy even touched my suitcase, till I yanked it away and glared at him. And somehow he scurried off.

Usually I’d be quite scared in such situations, but at that moment I simply didn’t have the luxury to be scared. It was running late, we were hungry and tired, Arati was freaking out like crazy, no one was able to help us properly – I couldn’t freak out too.

Then I remembered that I kept a record of the hotel’s contact! Why didn’t I think of that earlier. So stood in front of this rather crowded tourist spot, and made the phone call. The staff came over to walk us over – thank God!

It was an absolute nightmare!

The stupid taxi driver actually stole 100,000 dong from us, citing that it was for toll. He didn’t even drop us off at our hotel, just so he could take another passenger. He had the audacity to demand for 200,000 dong extra for a ‘tour’ for naming a few random buildings on the way over. And he almost drove off with our luggages!

And when I had WiFi to do some research, I found that the wanker took a longer route too.

It was awful, awful, awful.

Within the first hour of visiting Vietnam, I was already missing Singapore. Hardly felt like it was a proper holiday if I had to be so on guard all the time!

But from then on we all entirely Mai Linh taxis, which were all amazing. They were professional, rates were very reasonable (by Vietnamese standards) and we felt super safe with them. And when we took the taxi to the airport, we didn’t pay for the toll!

Only down side was Mai Linh is popular with the locals as well (which actually is a good thing!), so most Mai Linhs are taken up.

Vinasuns tend to be bigger, so better for larger groups.

Now, be VERY careful about the spelling of the names as well. I spotted a ‘pirated’ brand that are similar to Mai Linh; spelling was something like ‘Mai Lin’ and it had the exact same green. But they’re not Mai Linh! Read up that other tourists were conned in those imposter-brands as well. 😰

On the left is Vinasun and on the right is Mai Linh.

vinasun, mai linh, taxi, vietnam
Image Credit: http://cafef.vn/

Trust me when I say this – don’t trust what the locals tell you. Just stick to Mai Linh or Vinasun!

We trusted a local and it ruined our mood so much!! You really don’t want that when you go for a holiday.

Gosh. Sickened to my bone over this.

Anyone else have any other con stories to share? Tell me in your comments!

XOXO, G.