Uber Kenya have raised their prices effective yesterday, and this change will definitely cause many people to want to change their mind about the service.
Here are the changes:
Over the past few weeks, Uber hasn't been having good press globally due to many things from Susan Fowler's exposive blog post, to the CEO's argument with a driver, and their Intellectual Property case with Alphabet's Google.
Raising their prices in Kenya, in the light of all the recent happenings, could be seen as a way of encouraging their drivers, who many have complained don't make as much money as they ought to, to stay on the platform.
The new changes, however, won't be received well by the customers, who now enjoy a variety of other taxing hailing services like Mondo, Taxify, Little and Pewin.
Last year July, in a reactionary measure against Craft Silicon's Little, Uber slashed their prices by 35%. The drivers didn't take it lightly. They protested the decision but nothing was done about it.
Uber said the slash in prices increased their drivers' rides. And that it was a bid to increase use of their platform. Which makes me wonder what would this new increase mean?
Here's what Uber still doesn't get:
- Their model doesn't work in Kenya: Uber's main aim through UberX is to help people share rides. Most who sign up as Uber drivers were either previously running their personal taxi business or joined in with the promise of making money from Uber.
Their competition on the other hand focuses on running taxi companies where drivers aren't just people who have a car and time to drive, but are trained drivers who get assured of more benefits. Little for example gives their drivers smartphones and airtime. Mondo extensively trains their drivers and only picks those who meet their high standards.
Uber's competition even demands Public Service Vehicle certification.
- Their drivers aren't employees: Uber is meant to generally be an on-demand platform. Working towards this ideally would mean total control of all their properties including workers and vehicles. With such a strategy, they can be free to change their rates as they please.
But they don't own and control their drivers or the cars. And constantly changing prices as they wish, hurt the people who use the platform.
Uber Kenya need to re-think the market they're in. They need to ensure they please both riders and customers.
Constantly re-evaluating their prices as they please isn't helping them out. Every change hurts someone. And that points out to a problem in their model. If they want to help people share rides, they should try and make that happen in a better way than they are doing now.
Uber should remember their competition gives much more value in a single ride than they do. Enjoying familiarity with the driver, having properly calculated or permanently set prices and other free additions like water and Wi-Fi makes people opt for real taxi companies.