PickMe needs to do better

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It’s fair to say that the advent of ride hailing apps in Sri Lanka has changed our lives for the better. Thanks to PickMe and Uber, convenience is at your fingertips, literally. But that’s not to say that the two companies have been without their fair share of issues over the years. In fact, quite a few of them continue to plague both platforms with the customers at the receiving end. This article focuses on some of PickMe’s biggest issues.

Sir, cash da card da? (Sir, is it a cash or card payment?)

Perhaps the most common issue customers face is drivers refusing card hires. This has been the case ever since card payments were introduced a few years back. In the early days of card hires, drivers would often raise issues over the fact that card payments take time to realise. Thankfully, on PickMe card payments are now almost instantly reflected in the drivers’ bank accounts.

However, a certain number of drivers continue to refuse card payments. Why? According to these PickMe drivers, a card payment would mean that a driver’s dues will be matched against the income from the cards. As a result, the actual cash the driver takes home is much lower than expected. Some drivers even claim that it’s not enough to operate daily.

While the driver plights are understandable, surely there’s not much PickMe can do about it? After all, PickMe also has its bills to pay. Well, there might be workaround this problem. For instance, the driver app could offer a toggle option. This could allow the driver to choose whether to cancel off his/her dues with the card payment income. The alternate option could be to allow the driver to settle dues later, within a defined period.

Ultimately, make it easier on the drivers so that card hires are unlikely to be rejected. Of course, we’re only speculating here. What’s important is for the company to appeal to the pleas of the drivers. If not, all these driver issues trickle down to the rider. The result is unhappy customers as well as unhappy drivers.

Addressing customer complaints

Speaking of unhappy customers, when was the last time PickMe got back to you about a complaint? The whole point of lodging a complaint is for the company to address the issue and inform the customer. This is another area where PickMe falls short at times. Take the case of Twitter user @stephhhsings. Her complaint about an incorrect fare charge has been left unanswered for days, even after tweeting at them following the complaint. This silent treatment isn’t limited to in-app complaints or social media. Emails don’t fare better either, as one user found out the hard way.

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According to PickMe, average response time with regards to customer inquiries is about 2 hours. Speaking to ReadMe, the PickMe corporate communication team mentions that, “matters are attended immediately depending on the severity. If it’s a refund it would take about 12hours”. The team goes on to say that the company responds to complaints (app and call) within 2 hours. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule.

On the other hand, it’s at least not Uber Sri Lanka bad. Yes, there’s a lot of room for improvement as far as communication is concerned. But at the very least PickMe is reachable. Though to be fair, it’s not exactly a benchmark to strive for.

Buggy problems

It’s not unnatural for tech-based solutions to have technical issues. The PickMe app is no stranger to bugs either. At times, the app miscalculates appropriate fare prices. Take Thish’s incident for example. His 7.4 km hire was recorded at LKR 71.53, whereas it should have come to a little over LKR 250 on a tuk. Naturally, the driver refused to accept the stated amount and Thish ended up paying LKR 400 to the driver. Similarly, Munza Mumtaz also faced a situation where an 8 km hire came to only LKR 170.

This may not be everyone’s issue to deal with. But when it does happen, both the driver as well as the customer are at an inconvenience to say the least. On the one hand, it’s unfair to ask the customer to pay an amount that’s not stated on the app. But it’s also unfair on the driver to accept such a fare. It isn’t the same as taking a discounted hire. There, PickMe would compensate the difference to the driver. But when a bug messes up the fare, the responsibility falls on the company and not the customer or the driver.

Another issue that some have come across (including a few of us at ReadMe) is with the location pin on the app. Specifically, adding in your pickup point when calling in a hire. The location pin isn’t always accurate or even convenient when trying to manually place the pickup location. A little more than a nuisance if you’re ever in a hurry and need a taxi.

Added to this, is the seemingly deceptive indicator on the map where it shows quite a few available drivers near your location. But actually, trying to get a hire may yield no results. So…did all those drivers press cancel at once?

Bug reports anyone?

All of this translates to a bigger problem with PickMe. It’s that despite 4 years in the industry, the app still doesn’t have a proper bug reporting mechanism for users. If you or even a driver come across a technical issue, you would have to reach out to PickMe personally. According to Mithila Somasiri, CTO at PickMe, many of the app issues can be solved by the call centre agents. Their Level 2 support team tackles more advanced issues that require technical skills. As Mithila mentions, the idea is to ensure developers only focus on the most serious issues.

Granted, the app does have a detailed list of issues you can report to PickMe. This includes app-related matters as well. But it still offers limited options if you want to report any technical issues with the app. As per their corporate communications team, the idea for restricting the bug reporting mechanism to the complaint section to “to keep the user experience simple”.

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Would a dedicated bug reporting feature be really that bad?

Regardless, as we saw in the previous section, a “report a bug” feature remains a necessary addition, at least on the beta app. It’s a matter of streamlining these app-related issues to the development team. Additionally, such a mechanism makes it easier for the user to report any bug. The company could take a step further and make it a full-blown bug bounty program. But that might be asking for too much.

PickMe should strive better

PickMe may have started off as a ride hailing app. But it has already expanded into other areas like food delivery and even parcel delivery. Currently, the app offers six types of services with two of them at the beta stage. But if the core service is challenged by issues of this nature, then chances are the other service offerings may suffer the same fate. What’s more, they could very well bring an entirely different set of problems. For example, with PickMe Food, the company is in a sector with unique challenges such as: food quality and packaging.

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While we’re at it, can we talk about a more clearer way of communicating?

PickMe’s issues may not be as problematic as Uber Sri Lanka. But it’s no longer a budding startup. PickMe is a full-blown corporate that’s aiming for a public listing. As such the company should aim for higher standards with better support systems. The last thing you would want is to have all your seemingly manageable problems snowball into uncontrollable proportions.

We’ve already raised the above issues with PickMe. We will update the article once they respond to all our inquiries.

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