On 9 January, Grab launched number masking feature for GrabHitch as part of the e-hailing app’s Safer Everyday campaign. This feature hides the actual mobile number and shows a virtual number instead during SMS/call for both drivers and riders.
After a week of launching this feature, many Grab drivers poured their unhappiness over this on social media.
As such, a GrabHitch driver named AC Lee wrote a complaint email to the company stating that number masking was an epic failure.
He said that his SMS text messages are severely delayed and he’s not receiving prompt confirmation for Hitch bookings. On top of that, his passengers are also not ready for pickup because they aren’t receiving messages instantly, despite being sent ahead of time.
Since GrabHitch is a service catered mainly to private car drivers travelling through a defined route, they are not obliged to spend wasted time waiting for passengers due to such an issue, Mr Lee said.
With such problems, cancellations are bound to increase and this will cast a negative perspective on the GrabHitch service and ultimately, on Grab itself.
Mr Lee also noted that his passengers are refusing to answer the masked phone numbers with the 31******* prefix because they deem it to be marketing or survey-related calls.
He wrote, “The time of GrabHitch Drivers is extremely valuable and we cannot be compensated for lost time. You will lose your Drivers ultimately.”
Apart from Mr Lee’s dissatisfaction over the masking of mobile numbers, a myriad of complains were also expressed by drivers on GrabHitch’s Facebook page.
Facebook user Benjamin Lim said that he accepted the ride and texted the confirmation, but he didn’t get any reply. He even tried calling the rider, but to no avail. However, after two hours he finally received the replies from the rider.
Roger Lim also faced a similar ordeal where the rider didn’t respond to his numerous confirmation prompts because she did not receive his SMSs. However, he received her SMS via his direct number just before he cancelled the ride. Therefore he was not sure if it’s the same rider who is seeking for confirmation.
To further find out people’s disappointment over this feature, Mr Lee created a poll on GrabHitch Singapore Facebook’s page and it was revealed that the majority of netizens (49 votes) feel that they will stop hitching after the number masking was implemented. Another 42 voters said that they will reduce hitching while 35 of them said they will continue to hitch as per normal.