Uber Scam in Viet Nam?

uberLet me preface this by saying that I like Uber in Viet Nam.  The service is cheaper and more convenient than taking a taxi.  My only wish is that they would have some sort of indication that the driver is a smoker in which case I would cancel the order.

Unlike many taxi drivers, who can attempt to charge unsuspecting passengers, usually people right off the boat (plane), a flat (and inflated) rate, or that have a fast meter, Uber is seemingly foolproof, right?  It’s hard to cheat customers with its technical infrastructure.  You enter the destination address and know upfront what the cost will be and approximately how long the ride will take.

4 minutes away at 5:07 p.m.

But the system does have a soft underbelly that is more annoying than it is costly.  Here’s a scam that I’ve noticed recently that will damage Uber’s reputation, if nothing is done about it.  You order a car and, while waiting, notice that it remains in one location, instead of rushing to pick you up.  Maybe the driver’s having a coffee or a smoke.  Maybe he’s texting his girlfriend or taking a power nap. Whatever he’s doing, he’s not rushing to pick me (you) up.

The app says four (4) minutes away and then five (5) and then four (4).  Four (4) minutes have elapsed.  It’s a waiting game.  If you cancel the ride after five (5) minutes, your dear driver will earn 15,000 VND for doing nothing.  He – it’s usually a he – knows that.  That’s 66 cents or nearly $8 per hour – for doing nothing.  Not too shabby in a country where the annual PCI was about $2,251 last year.

5 minutes away at 5:08 p.m.

What to do?  Schedule permitting, take screenshots as the time changes from four to five to seven minutes and you’re waiting for a ride that is not likely to materialize.  Then cancel the lazy bum and order another ride.  If you’re charged the usual 15,000 VND, send Uber the screenshots, which are proof that the driver was cheating you.

4 minutes away at 5:11 p.m.

Memo to Uber:  Close the loophole ASAP or risking losing business.  There are other games in town, e.g., Grab.