Here is a quick rundown of what has happened with Uber India in the last 1 month.
In short, Uber is entering a deep shit zone in India and largely because of its internal choices and not external conditions.
Uber : A Victim Of Its Own Success?
Like any well funded company, Uber gave away a lot of incentives to drivers. For instance, a drive to (Bangalore) airport was an easy profit of Rs. 500 for the drivers.
Uber has cut down on all such incentives and is instead paying Rs. 275 per hour to drivers* irrespective of whether they are driving to the airport or inside the city (also, irrespective of number of rides per hour/day).
In fact, most of the Uber drivers are rejecting airport rides citing various reasons (the most frequent one being ‘I don’t have a permit’) – mainly because there is very little RoI for them.
As some of the drivers told us, Uber has stopped giving them commission (on the billing) even though the company is charging surge pricing.
What about others?
Competitors like Ola are paying on commission basis and has so far, stuck to its incentive scheme (with a bit of fluctuation).
In Bangalore, Uber drivers are flocking to Ola as if there is no tomorrow (for Uber).
The Bad Uber Experience. Becoming A Norm?
My last 2 rides with Uber has been very scary. There was massive traffic while on the way to airport and while I was getting delayed, Uber sends app notification to the driver
“Uber is canceling the trip. Please drop the passenger at a safe location”.
All in the middle of the trip !
I somehow convinced the driver that there was a problem with his app and I even offered him cash incentive to make up for his trip. And in between all of this, Uber canceled the trip and it was one heck of a last minute fight – with both driver as well as airlines.
The challenge here is not about Uber’s great algo which figured out the trip was running for more than usual duration – but lack of local understanding (traffic conditions) that makes it an extremely un-uberish experience.
A marketplace with zero assets cannot afford to screw around with both ends (of the marketplace) so badly.
Uber’s problems in India will intensify further unlesss the company gives away a bit of its arrogance and somehow figures out a balance between profit and incentives.
Uber started off as a great professional experience (for both drivers and customers) and is now turning into a below-mediocre experience. A case of scaling challenges in India or a case indifference?
** As per Uber drivers.