Tanzania

Taxify, Uber app billing fraud hits Tanzanian users

Striking Uber drivers
Striking Uber drivers park vehicles at Uhuru Park in Nairobi in the past over pricing of ride. A number of taxi-hailing Uber and Taxify users in Dar es Salaam have lodged complaints against rogue drivers. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Dar es Salaam

A number of taxi-hailing Uber and Taxify users in Dar es Salaam have lodged complaints against rogue drivers using various ways to extend the distance travelled by riders in order to charge them exaggerated fees.

Tanzanian riders who talked to The Citizen expressed concerns that local users of the taxi-hailing service are fast losing confidence in the automated billing system, which drivers are manipulating to defraud passengers.

Taxify and Uber said they were aware of the violations.

“Yes we have received such complaints. Our system regularly identifies drivers who try to abuse the GPS system, after which they are automatically deactivated from the platform,” Taxify country manager Tanzania Remmy Eseka told The Citizen.

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Uber communications officer for East Africa, Ms Janet Kemboi, said the company was also taking measures to prevent fraudulent activities by drivers.

“We have advanced anti-fraud measures. Drivers found doing this will be removed from the app; riders should report any concerns they have and our 24/7 customer support teams will look into the issue and offer refunds when applicable,” she said.

Complaints

One passenger who used a Taxify taxi on Sunday from the US embassy to Kinyerezi said he was billed TSh18,000 (Sh802) on grounds that he had travelled 22 kilometres, while before the journey, the Taxify billing estimate indicated that he would pay between TSh8,000 (Sh356) and TSh12,000 (Sh535).

“I was surprised to receive such a bill, so I asked the driver why the bill is different from the one indicated before the trip; all he said was there was a traffic jam,” the passenger told The Citizen.

Another rider who travelled in Taxify taxi from Tank-Bovu to Mwenge was charged TSh18,000, while the estimate had indicated that he would pay about TSh6,000 (Sh267) prior to the trip.

“I paid the bill, but I lodged a complaint with Taxify, asking them to re-evaluate the bill because I was so sure that something was wrong,” he said.

The passenger received a refund of the difference (Sh12,000) through a mobile money transaction (M-Pesa) after lodging a complaint via the Taxify online app.

Another passenger, who used an Uber taxi from Ubungo Bus Terminal to Tabata-Savanna through Mandela Road was billed Sh19,000.

But the customer had received a charge estimate of Sh9,000. “I didn’t want to complain about the bill because I was tired and I was so sure that it would take a long process to receive a refund,” he said.

Uber kick-started operations in June, 2016 in Dar es Salaam. Taxify, on the other hand, launched its services in the city in December 2017.

Fraudulent billings by taxi drivers using e-hailing apps have been on the rise in Tanzania. Similar incidents have been reported in Kenya and Nigeria.

Mr Eseka said his team was working on a system to prevent drivers from deactivating the location feature when using the application.

“We are also issuing a warning to drivers that manipulating the app will result in an automatic deactivation,” he said.