A couple of weeks ago, SafeBoda unveiled new terms and conditions that were received with both mixed feelings and reactions. Like most people, I watched from the sidelines as the only tech unicorn made from the pearl gets dragged and slammed with countless threats and dark humor.
The new wave of cancel culture didn’t spare it either; many were calling for people to boycott the app until they revise their terms and conditions. But with all that happening, it got me thinking did everyone overreact to Safeboda’s new terms and conditions? Could we have had a better conversation?
- Safeboda riders don’t want to take cashless customers but the company is encouraging customers to top up and ride on cashless to pay from the wallet.
- Riders using the app to get customers and negotiate the price to take them offline. They mostly use the app price range to know the journey’s worth.
- Riders asking the price estimate before they take it because the journey might not be worth their time and effort.
- Riders always bug you about your destination. Doesn’t the GPS show them the destination and best route to take?
- Whenever you have a conversation with a rider and ask them why they’re boycotting the cashless option, they’ll tell you the company increased the commission on every ride from 10% to 15% and changed the duration of collecting from monthly to per ride.
Customer Care and Already Built Infrastructures
Let me paint you a picture. For those who don’t know, Safeboda has built structures and infrastructures to aid its operation in Uganda. First, they have the SafeBoda Academy in Kyebando where they have basic capacity-building classes for riders on English, financial literacy, and tech.
In terms of customer care service, I rate my experience a 5/5. All my complaints have been listened to and reimbursed in situations where the riders started the trip without me and used up my credit balance.
A simple question for everyone overreacting to the new terms and conditions: Do you think SafeBoda will abolish all the infrastructures and structures they built over time because of the new terms? They’re revising their playbook and this brings me to the next point.
Is It Wrong to Be a Tech Platform?
For lack of better vocabulary, let me borrow Rocket Health’s founder tweet for better context.
From the beginning, SafeBoda’s business model has been one which resonates with all the big gig economy model. From Uber, Upwork and now SafeBoda, their fundamental approach to providing service are similar. They try to drive lower costs to customers by squeezing the service providers.
Unfortunately, in the long run, the business model always comes crashing down. It’s inevitable that the service provider will find a way to start gaming the system (look for loopholes).
The similarities continue with the terms and conditions. In the ride-hailing space, both Uber and Bolt have similar consumer terms and conditions.
The irony is both companies operate within the country and none—with virtually the same Ts and Cs—are being criticized.
All that the new terms and conditions is saying is “We as Safeboda are a tech platform aggregating riders like everyone else and you have to take us as is.”
In 2018, Safeboda raised over $1.1 Million, and in the words of Notorious B.I.G, “mo money mo problems.” Safeboda, being a venture capital-backed company, possibly also has contention between the company and investors.
The VC influence is something that can’t be underlooked. Although we can’t point fingers at the moment, it’s something possible especially with the western backing and school of thoughts.
What’s the Way Forward?
In our economy, trust and relationships built in an add-on manner are much stronger and long-lasting. SafeBoda had this figured out about two years ago.
Customers trusted that the riders would take them to their destinations safely, and at a relatively cheaper price. Only positive comments were shared about riders obeying the traffics rules and not running wild. Riders carrying additional helmets for customers were some of the biggest perks of hailing a SafeBoda.
- Ditch the idea of cheaper rides. In my opinion, they can charge a premium fee for having trained, and obedient drivers who follow all traffic rules. Customers can choose convenience and reliability instead of focusing on cheaper prices.
- Find a way to reconcile with the riders. Riders are complaining about the 15% commission per ride. They need to agree with the riders on what solutions work for both parties because there’s no quality service without happy riders.
That’s it for my thoughts on the new Safeboda Terms and Condition. What do you think the company can do to bounce back from the nightmare? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section.