Grab sanctions 500 drivers over cancellations

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  • Suspensions for drivers last 3 to 5 days, subject to retraining
  • Grab driver in viral complaint likely to be 'banned for life'
  • Grab: Destination visible to drivers for security purposes
  • Grab studying whether to remove destination feature
  • After P2 per minute fare suspension, Grab cancellation rate doubled

This story has been updated to include statements from Grab Philippines Country Head Brian Cu.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) — Transport network company Grab Philippines sanctioned about 500 drivers last week following a viral complaint on unjustified ride cancellations.

In a statement released on Monday, Grab Philippines Country Head Brian Cu apologized to passengers for the inconvenience.

"We will never tolerate any behaviour that compromises the quality of our service... We have rolled out additional and stricter measures to address issues on cancellations and this is just the start," he said.

Cu explained the metric for drivers' incentives only allowed a 5 percent cancellation rate.

"Those with 10 percent and above cancellation rate per week may face sanctions such as suspension and complete banning from the platform," said Cu.

Grab told CNN Philippines sanctions could be in the form of warnings, suspensions lasting between three and five days subject to retraining, or a total ban from the service.

The announcement comes after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued a second show cause order to Grab this month, this time over complaints of cancellation.

The issue stems from a viral Facebook post by user Karl Davin, showing his conversation with Grab driver Mario Telie Espino Tayan, who refused to cancel the booking after saying he can't attend to the passenger.

Cu agreed that the behavior the driver exhibited was "bastos." He added that Tayan was likely to be "banned for life" from the platform.

"We already reached out to him to explain his side. In the meantime, he's already been suspended," he said.

Following more stringent protocol for drivers, Cu also said dealing with cancellations is a two-way street. He expressed hope that passengers hold on to their bookings.

"We encourage our passengers to be responsible by maintaining minimal and valid cancellations and keeping wait time to no more than 7 minutes," he said.

Cu added passengers whom drivers complain about may also face sanctions.

Cancellation rates doubled

Grab also announced that cancellation rates doubled at 11 percent last Friday and Saturday following the suspension of the controversial P2 per minute fare. The company said only half of the passenger demand was serviced as a result.

"Drivers have to buy gas, pay the monthly amortization for the vehicle, or the daily boundary, and when traffic stalls them, it is only the P2 per minute that saves their income," said Cu.

He added drivers resorted to cancelling their bookings when they know they will go through traffic and the pay will not be worth it.

The LTFRB on April 18 ordered Grab to suspend its per minute charge pending a review of its legality. The contested fare was raised by PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, who argued transport regulators did not approve the fare and the riding public was not duly informed about it.

Grab has since complied with the order, but it also filed an appeal to restore the fare. The company maintains the extra income goes to drivers, and was "necessary to protect (their) livelihood."

Grab: Visible destination is 'a security measure'

Speaking to CNN Philippines' New Day, Nograles attributed Grab's cancellation rate to the fact that drivers could see where passengers were headed.

The lawmaker added LTFRB issued an order in 2015 asking Grab to disable the feature, but it has yet to comply.

"When drivers see the destination is too far... (he) is in a situation to refuse conveyance, which is against the law," said Nograles.

However, Cu told CNN Philippines' The Source most customers failed to get a ride because of lack of units to serve them, not because rider destinations were visible. He also said he has yet to examine the order Nograles was referring to.

"People associate the fact that they can't get a ride with choosy drivers. But when we look at the data... around 70 percent of unallocated bookings is because there are no cars available," said Cu.

He said showing drivers a clear destination was a security feature for them.

"We've avoided incidents na na-hold up si driver or may modus... That's the reason why we've shown the destination," he explained.

Cu added that Grab was studying other security alternatives and removing the visible destination feature altogether.