Customers losing out in a Grab monopoly

It has been about four months since Grab acquired Uber's South-east Asia operation, and things have not been the same.

As a frequent Grab user, I have noticed some unpleasant differences.

First, promo codes have been reduced significantly.

Before the merger, Grab and Uber fought over the most attractive promo codes to draw customers, and the discounts ranged from $2 to $60. Various promos were given weekly and lasted for days.

Now, customers can't count on getting even one promo code in two weeks.

Second, the point system in Grab has changed. Customers gain points based on the amount they spend, which can be used to redeem rewards ranging from Grab discounts to plane ticket discounts.

Before, the rate was 16 points for every dollar spent using GrabPay. Now, it has dropped to 4.5 points per dollar.

Lastly, Grab prices have increased and surcharges are common.

All these point to an unfavourable situation for customers.

It is time to bring back prominent competitors.

Current competitors Ryde and traditional taxis do not have enough of a presence to make an impact on Grab's prices. These companies have to shift their marketing tactics or the Government has to step in to remove Grab's monopoly status.

Sean Lin Jinshen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2018, with the headline 'Customers losing out in a Grab monopoly'. Print Edition | Subscribe