Home Business & Money Tech &Innovation Dear Bolt riders, behave yourselves or quit!

Dear Bolt riders, behave yourselves or quit!

Bolt rider

I am always scared of riding a motorbike. However, where I stay it is difficult to walk past 7:00 PM especially if you have a handbag or backpack. Thugs will rob you at knifepoint. The majority being boda boda riders.

Since I was robbed a fortnight ago, I see the thugs on the road every day. I tell everyone about my ordeal because I believe if somebody had told me there are thugs, I would not have been robbed. Shockingly, every day I hear a new case from the neighborhood about so and so who was robbed in different circumstances.

Now after the mugging, I was posted at a different workstation far away from home. It has become essential to hire a rider every day after work. In addition, I woke up late on some days and had to find the easiest way to work. So I turned to Bolt Boda. I have hired 3 boda boda riders on the ridesharing app and they have all scammed me.

Now, ride-sharing apps have their strategy for issuing discounts to clients. Riders and drivers have always complained about these discounts, but when I asked if the companies were forcing them to issue discounts, they all agreed that the companies took care of the discounts. Until now, I have not understood why they complain about the discounts if they are not the ones giving them.

For instance, my first ride was supposed to cost KES 330. Bolt applied a discount of KES 80, so I was supposed to pay 250. The rider drops me off, and I ask him for my bill, he looks at his phone, smirks, and says KES 330. I work with trust because I know there’s a channel for raising any disputes. So I pay him KES 350 and leave.

Later in the day, I am meeting a friend at a venue I’m not familiar with. So I go to Bolt App and hire a rider. The fare estimate is KES 290. The rider drops me off and asks for KES 370. I am surprised but again, I work with trust because I can always raise a complaint when I check my receipt later. I send him the money and leave.

The following day I am late for work because I woke up tired. I get a Bold rider to take me to work. The fare estimate is KES 410. The rider comes, drops me to work then I ask for my bill. He says KES 550. I complain because that was the fare for a cab when I checked. I remove my phone to confirm, especially after being scammed by two riders. I open my Bolt App only to find that the rider canceled the trip without consulting me. I ask him why he canceled, he says because they apply unfair discounts and oppress them. I pay him KES 500 and leave. Then raise an issue with Bolt.

At the time of writing this, Bolt has already been in touch with the riders and have given me discount codes worth almost KES 500 for my future rides.

This is not just an issue with Bolt. Uber drivers had this issue sometime back. They would pick you up, go to fuel to kill time and ensure your fare is higher, or cancel the trip so you can pay them cash.

I understand ridesharing apps are dirt cheap, but this is the business model they have chosen. Every business owner has to find a way to enter the market and sustain themselves there. For ridesharing apps, that is their strategy. They did not force any driver or rider to join the app.

Traditionally, riding from Westy to Rongai, for instance, would cost 700-1500. Now Bolt charges 410-510. It’s become affordable because the rider will drop and get another client immediately. They will be busy, unlike before.

Given the rising insecurity, people hardly stop a motorbike rider on the road to give them a ride. He might be a thug in disguise. So the safest thing to do is use the App or call someone you know. With the state of the economy, everyone wants to save.

Riders say they pay up to 25% of their revenue to the ridesharing companies. They have designated spots for picking up and dropping off riders. There are ads all over promising people affordable rides. They have put security measures in place and even hired teams to help clients who can’t book for themselves. Normally, companies spend 30% of their revenue on marketing.

I’m talking about companies that are in the business to stay, not the bonoko businesses we run on family groups and curse our relatives for not promoting us. Now, Uber and Bolt have invested in marketing and goodwill. Riders and drivers only come in to deliver the service. Then they complain about fares and discounts. This is serious!

But then, even in normal employment, you will find someone who complains for 5 years about their employer yet never quits. I usually say, if it is not fulfilling, stop spreading bile. Just quit or find a way to accept it.

This is why I tell ridesharing drivers and riders, the majority of your riders also don’t like their bosses. But they are happy to be earning an income, no matter how meager. Just do your work faithfully. And if being Kenyan naturally does not allow you to be honest, well, too bad. As long as you are on these apps, you must remain trustworthy no matter how oppressive it may feel. Who told you your clients are happy with their salaries, after all?

Just do your work faithfully or quit using the app!


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A Management Scientist, Creative and Digital Marketer at urbanacle.com. I love stories, especially the ones with happy endings. Business stories, personal stories, travel stories, and something about your culture. Want to share over a cup of coffee? Follow me on social media and introduce yourself. On y va !