E-hailing companies operating in South Africa said they are not afraid of bringing the hammer down on drivers who are demanding cash from passengers as more complaints surface.
But while the corporations put rules and regulations into place, the debate about the situation on the ground in the face of an economic trough, intensified.
This week, South African broadcast journalist Desan Thathiah posted on Facebook about an e-hailing driver demanding cash from him.
The post attracted over a hundred comments, each from people who have experienced the same thing or have family who have experienced it.
There was also talk about how the prices of e-hailing rides are low while fuel prices are high, putting the driver in a difficult financial position, which could justify them requesting cash from passengers instead of the stipulated card payments.
“I see Uber is going the same way as Bolt, which I stopped using more than a year ago.
“Driver accepts a request today. When he arrives, he asks if I can do a cash trip (even though I booked with a card).
“Apparently, he didn’t have money for petrol and gave me a long story before we could leave.
“Why accept a card trip if you don’t have fuel?" Thathiah wrote.
Some of the comments also indicated that the problem may be regional because the Cape Town e-hailing sector did not experience the same challenge.
“There is no way in hell we would catch an Uber here in Durban. Sad, but true. Yet in CT [Cape Town], we feel as safe as anything when we need to catch an Uber there,” Pat Sunkel wrote in the comments.
IOL asked Bolt and Uber what their stance on drivers demanding cash was.
Bolt said if drivers are found in contravention of their code and conduct, they could be permanently suspended.
“Bolt has a zero-tolerance approach to this behaviour from drivers. Drivers can see a significant amount of information about passengers before they start a ride, including whether the trip is paid for in cash or by card.
“Bolt also allows drivers to reject any trip with a payment method they do not prefer before accepting, which means they have no reason to demand a cash payment from passengers. We encourage passengers to cancel any trip where a driver demands cash and report the driver in the app,” Bolt said.
Uber said their platform has a variety of payment options to suit passengers as well as in-app emergency options.
“We are committed to ensuring that trips booked through the Uber app are legitimate and that payments for trips completed via Uber take place through our app. Our unwavering focus on safety remains constant, regardless of the payment method you select.
“Your comfort and safety are our top priorities, and if users feel uncomfortable, they have access to multiple safety features, such as the In-App Emergency Button, which dispatches paramedics and armed security to your location within minutes of an emergency,” said Kagiso Khaole, General Manager for Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa.