Bolt has not been living up to its name. In the course of writing this article, I had to look up the meaning of the word Bolt. My belief and understanding is that every organization has a reason for choosing its name. The verbal definition of bolt, according to Merriam Webstar is “to move suddenly or to move or proceed rapidly”. This has not been my experience in recent times while using their service. As we all know, Ridesharing was a revolution for getting around big crowded cities, especially in big cities like Lagos. Ridesharing was also a way for anyone with a decent car to create a side hustle.
Over the weekend and in recent times I have had challenges with Bolt – the ride sharing company and have had cause to complain to them directly. I complained to them about a month ago and what I complained about then, I experienced again this weekend.
This is what happened! I was in Surulere around the Bode Thomas axis and wanted to go to Itire Road. Each time I booked a ride and told them Itire Road, they became funny. The first one told me categorically that he could not go and we both agreed that he would cancel the ride since he was the one who did not want to go. He said okay, only for him to indicate that he had arrived when he was nowhere near me and prevented me from booking another ride for several minutes.
I had to send him several text messages threatening that I would report if he did not cancel the ride. After about four text messages, he finally cancelled the ride. The second one, agreed to come and abruptly canceled the ride after agreeing he would go to Itire Road. When I called to confirm if he was on his way, his response was that he still had a passenger in his car and forgot that he had a passenger when he picked up my ride. This was such a blatant lie! I was flabbergasted!
With the third one, the conversation was, “I am going to Itire Road”, he said “no”. I then said would you go to Badore, Ajah. He said “yes”. So, what I suspected all along was that they were averse to going to Itire because the fare was small, about N500. While the Badore, Ajah ride was over N5000.
I found this situation very annoying and unfair as I had to tag the Itire ride to my Badore ride and paid almost N7000. Bolt really needs to do something about this gaming of the situation by its drivers. A few days ago, I learnt the drivers had an issue with accepting short distance rides. This was before I had this experience and I am sure many are suffering from this behavior from the drivers.
Another game that has been played against me, is drivers accepting rides, once you tell them your destination, especially during peak periods they accept the ride and never show up. The more annoying behavior is not showing up but indicating they have arrived and not enabling you to book for another ride. They do this all the time.
This is very poor customer service and Bolt needs to put a sharp end to this. If the drivers do not want to accept the ride, they should not accept at all in the first instance Time is money and we already live high pressured lives that the convenience that we get from using these companies should not be ameliorated by the poor customer experience we get from using them.
Many of us use these service for the following reasons:
• Ridesharing is meant to be affordable compared to other transportation options, which is why we all embraced the innovative option of using these Apps and rides. According to several new studies, ride sharing is meant to be considerably safer than driving by yourself. On average, rideshare drivers are less likely to speed and participate in reckless behavior than than regular drivers. Though this is not always the case. I have had cause to caution several reckless drivers to reduce their speed or to stop driving erratically.
• Without the stress of traffic and other drivers, there’s no question that ride sharing is more enjoyable and relaxing for the passenger. This reduces stress allows busy passengers to focus on work and other priorities.
With ridesharing companies, the fear of arriving late is meant to become essentially nonexistent. With efficient, knowledgeable drivers, you can feel confident about getting to your destination on time. However, this is not always the case as we keep losing this efficiency in view of the driver’s ability to game the system.
• There is also the advantage of riding in a standard car with air conditioning. Again, this is not uniform. Some of these cars do have air conditioners that cool and some of them are quite rickety and badly painted.
Some suggestions for overcoming a few of these challenges is to confirm from drivers the kind of rides they want to embark on before the passenger engages with them. Some of them may prefer long or short rides depending on the state of their cars and stamina. The company may also consider letting them know the location the rider intends to go to upfront (though this can be badly abused).
It is imperative that Bolt looks into solving its customer experience problems. The company has promised customers a certain minimum standard of service and they need to ensure they deliver on this promise. We should not be afraid that the drivers will reject our location. Otherwise once a viable and workable alternative hits the market, many people will churn.