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Nairobi Uber Chap Chap drivers linked to ride fraud

Drivers of Uber’s budget service, Chap Chap, could be defrauding unsuspecting customers by charging them the more expensive UberX rates, an investigation by the Business Daily has established.

The drivers may be fraudulently altering their classification in the Uber system from Chap Chap to UberX service, duping unsuspecting customers who request for rides unaware that they will be served by the budget category but end up paying a premium rate.

The budget option is serviced by the small but fuel-efficient 800cc Suzuki Altos.

UberX and Chap Chap services vary in pricing. UberX, which has larger cars with bigger engine capacity is pricier.

This makes it more lucrative for drivers in the budget Chap Chap category to falsify their classification.

‘CROSS DISPATCH’

Contacted for comment, Uber said that it only allows some of their vehicles to engage in “cross-dispatch”.

According to the company’s spokesman for East Africa, Janet Kemboi, only UberSELECT driver-partners can opt in to receive UberX trips.

This means that Chap Chap vehicles are not allowed to pick UberX passengers, although this has been happening in Nairobi.

According to Ms Kemboi, cross dispatch only “allows UberX driver-partners to opt in and receive UberChapChap trips while UberSELECT driver-partners can opt in to receive UberX trips”.

However, complaints from affected riders indicate that the fraud has been going on since December, with Chap Chap vehicles picking passengers meant for the premium UberX service and charging premium rates.

But Ms Kemboi said: “UberX and UberSELECT driver-partners are only allowed to cross-dispatch to ensure they continue to thrive while using the Uber app and to ensure that Uber is reliable and that vehicle options are always available to riders”.

She said that where this happens, the customer will be notified and will not be required to pay the higher rates.

CHARGED HIGHER RATES

However, one rider told the Business Daily that she reported an incident on Wednesday last week after she was charged the higher rates.

This was the fourth incident that she had noted the anomaly in the past two weeks.

A different Uber customer who hailed an UberX for a ride on February 7, from Lenana Road to 96 Riverside Drive was serviced by the Suzuki Alto budget option.

Details captured on the receipt show the Suzuki Alto as the model used but the fare was charged at the rate of an UberX.

Uber had earlier indicated that its system only allowed cross-matching from UberX to UberSelect; to mean that Chap Chap drivers cannot be matched with riders requesting other options. Suzuki Altos have a consumption rate of one litre per 25 kilometres.

The Chap Chap cost for a ride starts at Sh16 per kilometre, Sh4 per minute with a minimum fare of Sh100.

CHARGES MORE

UberX service charges Sh27 per kilometre Sh11 more than the Chap Chap option.

Ideally, when an UberX picks a Chap Chap passenger, the driver is expected to charge Chap Chap rates.

However, Chap Chap drivers should not charge UberX rates although different customers said this was happening.

Uber Chap Chap drivers purchase the fuel efficient Suzuki Altos financed through loans from Stanbic Bank and then pay for the cars while driving on the platform.