How cab drivers play the system to outwit Ola and Uber!

“Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense waiting for the passenger to come, and if it is peak traffic times, we cancel the ride and ensure that the customer pays for it. In that way, we don’t lose our incentive,” says a cab driver present on both Ola and Uber.

A very common technique called ‘No Show Fraud’ is used these days. At times, a customer is charged full for the ride but the driver doesn’t show up. One of the greatest hacks of all times which a cab driver uses!

Recently a pool passenger tweeted about the different hacks cab drivers use and that has been quite a buzz in the air!

After a few questions were raised on the same, we thought of updating the people with the key hacks that Ola and Uber drivers use to outwit the customers, here we go!

Commission or incentive-based fraud

An Ola driver says,

I hadn’t worked before this. Since I like to roam about, I thought Ola would be the best bet. Also, the incentives and pay ensure that I can earn close to Rs 8,000–10,000 in a day, depending on the number of rides I create. Initially, when Ola started, drivers earned several lakh rupees.

Hence, rightly said that higher the number of rides, the more money a driver makes! It isn’t surprising much to hear that drivers get down to such different hacks and ways to keep their owners in the illusion that they take more rides, when apparently, they don’t.

It is common for drivers to have two phones, one with the Ola-driver partner app and the other with the consumer app. The hack would be to book the rides and accept them immediately. The system would show that some drivers made close to 30 trips in a day.

Hack A: Refer a friend fraud

Supposedly, let’s imagine a hypothetical case where there is a driver X and his friend Y in other part of the city when demand is low. Ola has real-time tracking. This was done to help the consumer. But the system can be manipulated in such a way that drivers lately are able to profit from it substantially.

X informs his friend of the direction he is moving in, and the friend, tracing the real-time movement, places the pin on the cab, and since the system traces the closest available cab, X’s cab gets booked.

Hack B: Go home fraud

Driving can be a tedious task at times, and there is little control what time a driver would finish the duty, there are moments when the driver chooses to go home earlier than his duty time. That is supposed to be fine initially but the incentive would drop anyway. So in order to ensure that the driver gets his incentive, irrespective of whether he is driving or not, he would request a friend or a fellow cab driver to book a cab to his home destination.

By doing this, the driver would not only get an added incentive, but the petrol cost as well would fall under a trip and not under his personal expense.

Hack C: Fringing along the outskirts

There were some cars and cab drivers who were apparently registered on the platform but they were nowhere to be seen on the system. Elaborating the same, source adds that normal car behaviour is when it moves across different localities and is not confined or restrained to one location.

In cabs’ case, the car would take several rides in one location only, and all of them would be under the range of 5–10 kilometre radius.

Hack D: Can you book another ride sir/madam?

Ola has over 18 rides that a driver has to complete in a day to get his or her incentive. Although we would like to believe that most times, the driver partners are able to complete their rides, in many cases, they practically are not.

So, what do they do in that case? Quite a few times, after completing a ride, a driver is likely to ask you to get out of the vehicle and simply book another ride.

In case you have ‘Ola Money’, he ensures that he will pay you back, but if you are on Uber, he asks you to choose the cash option. Once you book the ride, he simply ensures that he picks up the service and after going a certain distance, ends the trip.

Remedy used

The pin earlier was placed on top of the cab to ensure that the nearest cab would be booked. To ensure that this hack doesn’t take place again, the bookings were randomized. So now, even if a pin is placed on top of the moving cab, a nearby cab is selected at random.

Ola has also created rules that help decide if the customer is a genuine customer or not. A genuine customer has different location trips, different drivers, possibly a few airport trips and even an outstation trip.

If a customer has several trips from the same location and possibly the same driver, then it can be safely assumed to be a case of driver fraud.

Hack E: On board a technical hacker

Since Ola and Uber work under an aggregator model, anyone, ranging from individuals to operators who have a fleet of drivers, can register on their platforms. So the ones who have over 15 to 20 drivers on the platform would decompile the driver API and ensure that booking could be made via a computer rather than a device.

Remedy used

To ensure that these frauds do not happen, everything was encrypted, thus making it difficult to hack through a computer.

Surge pricing fraud

While there is a strong rule against surge pricing today, when it was applicable, drivers would use one popular hack to ensure that the surge or peak pricing increased.
A group of drivers would gather at one meeting point. Most of the cab drivers would then switch off their devices, whereas, a few would let their devices stay on. What this did was that it kicked in the surge pricing, as the demand would be high and supply low. The drivers with their devices on would keep a track, and the minute surge pricing kicked in, the other drivers would switch on their devices.

Remedy used

Ola built in an algorithm that ensured that over 10 drivers couldn’t switch off their devices at the same time. They also began tracking whether all devices went off and on at specific times.

Outstation fraud

Ola just began outstation services a few months back, drivers are all set with their hacks already.
If a customer books an outstation drive, and the cost of the same is Rs 2,500, the driver gets that amount minus Rs 800, which is Ola’s commission. In many cases, the driver requests the customer to cancel the booking and offers to take the customer on his own at a reduced fare of Rs 2,000. In this way, the driver tries to cheat Ola of its commission.

Remedy used:

The source adds that while one or two such instances may not be tracked, several can be. The ex-employee explains:

Every time a trip is cancelled, there are a set of rules that we check, we check the credibility of the driver and the passenger, see if they have multiple different trips with different people and at different locations. If we track the device and see that it is at the outstation destination, then there is a 40 percent chance of a hack. The idea is to track rides diligently.

Other noteworthy frauds that drivers claimed to commit on their own are stated below:

The Ola and Uber twosome

While the San Franciso giant Uber and Bengaluru-based unicorn Ola are at loggerheads with one another, the drivers simply don’t care. They are often present on both platforms and try to get the best of both worlds. Many a time, if you’ve booked an Ola ride, a driver can later ask you to book an Uber as well and vice a versa. And why do they do this? Simple — incentive.

Therefore, again, the same logic follows, you book a ride if possible and help the driver complete his ‘number of rides’ for the day or achieve his target.

Car repair and personal issue

What is this issue all about?
Well, if you have seen the Ola partner app, you will see something like ‘Cancelled the ride for car repair or personal issue.’

Usually, a driver would call you to know your end stop and if you’ve booked a ride beyond 10 kilometres; it is quite possible that the driver might cancel your ride after some time and portray tyre puncture as an excuse.

Earlier, they would cancel the ride and cite a cancellation request from the customer as an excuse. However, since the cab aggregators began verifying this claim directly from the customers, the drivers are looking for different hacks to resort to.

The dispute of Ola Money

This is a genuine problem that Ola needs to fix.

It’s a very usual habit for majority of the drivers on the Ola platform to ask if the ride is by ‘cash’ or ‘Ola money’. And if by any chance you choose Ola money, you should be prepared to listen to a tale of how the money and incentive doesn’t reach the driver on time and how we as customers should trust the driver rather than some faceless company.

However, Ola has officially always maintained that their driver partners are paid every two days. And yet, there have been cases of drivers even rejecting rides if they end with Ola Money.

Coming up with hacks to combat the driver system isn’t an India-specific phenomenon, there are several posts on Reddit and Quora that talk about how Uber drivers hack the system globally.

No technology can be perfect, it is just a matter of time until these loopholes are fixed, and then drivers will just find other ones.

Though, one should always be aware of what is happening around and with him.

We wish you all the very best and also hope that after this blog, you wouldn’t fall for the typical loops the cab drivers set!

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