Vietnam's ex-Uber drivers shun Grab in favor of local competitors

By Phan Anh   April 15, 2018 | 11:30 am GMT+7
Vietnam's ex-Uber drivers shun Grab in favor of local competitors
Uber left Vietnam earlier this month and Grab has promised to offer all its former drivers new contracts. Photo by Reuters

'I would rather quit being a driver and find another job than work for Grab.'

Former Uber drivers in Vietnam are migrating towards domestic competitors instead of joining ride-hailing firm Grab, which acquired Uber’s Southeast Asian operations last month.

Many have opted for firms that offer similar services to Grab, such as Mai Linh and Vato, saying they want to support local businesses where they hope to receive better treatment.

Ho Huy, president of Mai Linh, said Uber drivers have been signing up to work for his company since last month, with more coming every day.

“At first, there were only a couple of drivers who came to sign up with us. Now we get hundreds of them on our best days,” he told VnExpress.

Tran Thanh Nam, CEO of ride-hailing app Vato, said about 5,000 drivers had signed up to work for his firm in just two weeks, ever since word got out at the end of last month that Grab was acquiring Uber, media reports said.

Vo Van Phu, a former Uber driver in Ho Chi Minh City, said he felt “sad” about Uber leaving Vietnam as he was applying to work for Mai Linh on Friday.

“The drivers are just looking for whoever’s offering decent treatment and a decent income,” he said.

At the Mai Linh office, former Uber driver Nguyen Thi Thuy said she had considered working for Grab when Uber left Vietnam, but she chose Mai Linh instead "because I wanted to support Vietnamese brands,” she said.

Anthony Tan, CEO of Grab, said in early April that he would not manipulate prices or take advantage of its driver after the acquisition, as cited by the BBC.

In January, Grab and Uber drivers staged protests outside the ride-hailing companies' offices in Hanoi after both companies increased the cut they took from drivers’ fares.

Both Grab and Uber raised the cuts they take from 20 to 25 percent.

With Uber now out of the way, drivers are worried that Grab could raise its cut even further.

Nguyen Van Thang, 28, who used to drive for both Grab and Uber, said: “The takeover is bad news. Without competition, they could ask for higher commission and reduce their support.”

Thang said many drivers used to switch between Uber and Grab, depending on the incentives they were offering. “Now we don’t have a choice. We will have to take whatever incentives Grab offers,” he said, as cited by media reports.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, head of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research, said Grab is likely to start manipulating the price in a market with no direct rivals. "By monopolizing the market, Grab will become powerful," he said.

Vietnamese transport companies are also stepping up their games in the wake of Grab's takeover of rival Uber's Southeast Asia business.

Mai Linh has announced to cut drivers' commission by only 15 percent.

To attract more potential drivers, it has promised to provide free uniforms for drivers who generate a revenue of over VND2.5 million ($109) in the first month.

The firm has also offered six months free healthcare for its drivers, and guaranteed it will not raise prices during rush hour, something that sets it apart from Grab which often changes trip prices multiple times during a day.

Meanwhile, Vato’s ride-hailing app has a unique price bargaining system that sets it apart from other apps, a company representative told local media.

Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc announced it had agreed to sell its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab at the end of last month. The app company officially left Vietnam on April 8, and Grab has pledged to offer all former Uber employees new contracts.

Vietnam is investigating whether Grab violated the Competition Law in its acquisition of Uber, the Competition and Consumer Protection Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Friday.

The investigation will take 30 days and comes after Grab failed to provide adequate evidence to prove that it hasn't formed a monopoly in Vietnam.

 
 
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