Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Why I stopped using Bolt cabs

Bolt’s management cares about the customer’s pocket. I must commend them for that because everyone is looking for something cheap in this economy. Of all the apps, Bolt always offers the most affordable rates. You can move from point A to B without feeling like you’ve lost too much of your money. And whenever Njeri says “niitishie cab ndio nikuje,” you don’t try too hard to convince her that matatus are the greatest invention mankind has ever come up with. You just say “Sawa!” because you won’t have to pay too much. 

The same cannot be said of Uber or Little Cab. Whenever I send money to an Uber or Little Cab driver, I feel like I’ve paid rent or school fees. I feel slightly regretful, and wonder whether running to my destination like Omanyala would have been wiser.

Co-Op post

But as cheap as Bolt is, it has numerous other problems stemming from driver behavior. Normally, most drivers have all the apps, but they somehow tend to be more disciplined when they are handling Uber clients than when they are handling Bolt clients. This, I have come to learn, is because the Bolt management is very lenient. Whenever you report a driver for a misdemeanor, there is a high chance they won’t be punished heavily. They know this, so they always act with impunity.

I have plenty of Bolt stories to tell, so I’ll start with the most recent one.

NCBA

A couple of days ago, I requested a Bolt and a driver accepted almost immediately. According to the app, he was two minutes away, yet he took almost 10 minutes to get where I was. I remember calling him, asking him if he was really coming. I was ready to order another cab, but he insisted that I shouldn’t do so. He apologized, claiming that he had passed by a petrol station, and the attendants were a bit slow.

After waiting patiently for over a century, Mr. John finally arrived.  I checked the number plates to be sure it was the same car, and then I got in. As soon as I was seated, he turned and looked at me.

“App imekuonyesha ngapi hapo?” he asked.

“800 bob,” I said.

“Hiyo pesa ni kidogo, Siwezi beba nayo. Utaniongeza ngapi?” he continued.

“Leo niko tu na iyo pesa exact,” I responded politely.

“Haya. Itabidi umeshuka basi,” he concluded.

Really? After waiting for him for several minutes, he dared to tell me to alight because the estimated amount didn’t please him. I felt angry because he wasn’t the first driver to ask how much amount the app was showing. This made me wonder why the taxing-hailing apps never show the driver the amount early enough so that they can decide if they want to accept the trip or not. 

It’s frustrating for the customer. 

Anyway, I didn’t argue, I just alighted and made sure to bang the door just to irk him a little more.

There is also another kind of Bolt driver, the kind that never asks how much “app inakuonyesha,” but when it comes time to pay, they show their true colors.  I met such kind of a driver sometime back. I’ll call him Mr. Kevin. 

Mr. Kevin was very friendly throughout the trip. He even told me tall tales of how he has carried most female celebrities, notably Tanasha Donna, Shiko Femi One, and Sanaipei Tande. He told me how Tanasha told him he was handsome, and that she wanted to date him, but he said no,

“Nilimwambia siwezi ingia kwa uhusiano na yeye sababu niko na bibi na watoto. Aki si aliskia vibaya,” he lied.

The jaba stories were interesting, and I even thought we had become friends, but when we arrived, he changed completely. I had a huge discount, so the final fare on the app was much lower than he expected. His face turned red and wrinkled, and then he went on a rant, claiming how Bolt doesn’t care about its drivers. He then insisted that customers should be kind enough to ignore the discount and just pay the usual amount. Well, was he aware that without the discount I wouldn’t have requested the cab? And why was he even ranting in the first place? I heard that Bolt compensates the drivers for the discounted amount via in-app cash. Could anyone please confirm if this is the case?

Anyway, on to the next rogue driver. I’ll call him Mr. Bonface

Mr. Bonface accepted my request after I left a certain nightclub at around 2 am. As soon as I got into the cab, he asked me a question that many customers had probably been asked before.

“Tunaeza enda offline?”

I immediately refused. There is absolutely no way I can “go offline” with a driver at 2 am in the night. Nairobi is a dangerous place, hence you need to protect yourself at all times. If something terrible happens while you are on an “offline” ride with a driver, he can easily deny that he was your driver. You will have no way to prove that you went on a trip with him.

When I refused, I thought the matter was settled. However, he started acting rudely. It was very windy, yet he declined to shut one of the front windows when I asked him to. I was sitting at the back, so there was nothing I could do about it. He also began driving like he was chasing villains in a Fast & Furious movie. I had to demand that he stop the car at a nearby mall and end the trip so that I could get another cab. 

All these incidents made me dislike Bolt. From time to time, I still get tempted to request a Bolt ride because of the fair prices, but I normally change my mind. I am still open to using the service if the company cleans its house and improves the customer experience, but for now, I’d rather pay more for Uber or Little Cab. Faras is also doing well in terms of pricing, but it’s still new, so I don’t trust it 100%. Everything is sweet when it’s new. Let’s see how it’ll be three or four years down the line. 

Which taxi-hailing service do you prefer?

 

  

 

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