By Denise A. Valdez
LOCAL ride-hailing company Micab Systems Corp. is accusing Grab Philippines (MyTaxi.PH) of sending “phantom” bookings, or fake bookings that reached up to 29,000 since June.
“From our 29,000 phantom bookings, we’ve received over several hundred reports of Grab soliciting our taxi drivers to attend their driver orientations. This is our single most compelling piece of evidence pointing to them as the culprit of the phantom bookings,” Micab chief executive officer Eddie F. Ybañez told BusinessWorld on Monday.
“Grab’s phone calls occur a few minutes after a phantom booking and they contact the driver via the phone number they registered with Micab, which would have been difficult to obtain any other way,” he added.
Mr. Ybañez said their data shows the SIM numbers used to book the rides are sequential, which means these were probably bought in batches and the bookings come from a single entity.
“Our drivers are less keen on accepting rides as they may end up being phantom bookings, which wastes their gas, squanders their time and even jeopardizes their safety, as they end up idling in what are often very remote locations for a significant period of time,” he noted.
Grab Philippines later shared its official statement dated July 27. Allegations of phantom bookings have been a cause of police investigation in Singapore, after Grab competition RYDE Technologies reported similar experiences. [See: Grab denies fake bookings, warns Micab]
RYDE said in a statement on June 28 it was able to trace the source of its fake bookings, pointing to IP addresses in Midview City and The Herencia, two locations in Singapore where Grab is located.
Mr. Ybañez said Micab was set to meet with the RYDE team on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue.
He added there’s a “huge possibility” they will take legal action if Micab continues to receive bogus bookings.
“Our legal team is assessing the data we have, (including) interviews from the drivers for the poaching,” Mr. Ybañez said.
Aside from Micab, another transport network company told BusinessWorld last month of similar frequent booking cancellations.
Owto chief executive officer Joel M. Gayod said that since it started operations in May, it once was able to receive 50,000 booking attempts which it could not guarantee to all be valid bookings.
“Apparently there’s an effort…to crash the system (of Owto) to destroy the confidence of the drivers. May nakita kaming mga patterns, it’s coming from a number na ibu-book si driver, kapag malapit na, ika-cancel (We’ve observed patterns coming from a number that would book a driver, and when the car is near the pickup point, would cancel the booking),” he said.
Still, Mr. Gayod did not identify who he thinks may be causing the fake bookings.
(This article was updated to include Grab Philippines’ official statement.)