Ride-hailing company Grab started adding a heatwave surcharge on its motorbike and delivery food services on July 6. Passengers now have to shell out an additional VND3,000 to VND5,000 per trip during “extremely hot weather.”
But while the surcharge seems “minimal at first glance,” Phuong, a regular GrabBike passenger, says the company didn’t give enough information about when exactly the additional fees are charged.
“What can be considered ‘extremely hot’? I think every day in Saigon is really hot, so does this mean the prices go up every day, too?” comments Phuong. “I use GrabBike to and from work daily, so I can feel how much this would impact my budget for transportation in the long run.”
A Grab representative told SGGP last week that the surcharge would “only be applied when the weather became extremely hot and applied to each order in the ride.” The representative said more details about the new policy will be released “later.”
The company said the surcharge would help reduce some difficulties when drivers take orders.
Among the most vulnerable to climate change, Vietnam has been experiencing heat waves over the last few weeks, especially in the northern region. In late June, temperatures in Hanoi stood above 37 degrees Celsius. Sapa also saw its temperature rise to 26 degrees Celsius. Other provinces felt the blistering heat in the last week of June.
For Phanny, who travels from Thao Dien to District 7 for work, the surcharge would mean she has to pay at least VND79,000 per trip. “For me, that amount is too much for one motorbike ride. But I don’t have any choice because taking Grab is the easiest way to go to work.”
The Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority said Tuesday that it has already asked Grab to explain the heatwave surcharge. The company is given until July 18 to respond.
“Grab collects a surcharge for hot weather with some services such as that is unacceptable. The weather is sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny, and service prices are formed from input according to regulations,” Nguyen Manh Hung, Chairman of the Vietnam Consumer Protection Association, told Vietnam Insider.
Hung added that Grab also has to state how its driver-partners would benefit from the surcharge.
He added that the rise in petroleum prices over the last few months has already negatively impacted consumers. With the costs of basic goods and services surging, many Vietnamese have had to reduce spending. In March alone, prices of goods and medicines rose by 5 to 30%, with sugar, cooking gas, and instant noodles seeing double-digit increases.
To counter rising gasoline prices, Grab adjusted its minimum fares in March by VND2,000 to VND29,000 for four-seater and VND34,000 for seven-seater vehicles in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Each subsequent kilometer is charged VND10,000, up by VND500. GrabBike fares also went up to VND12,500-13,500 for the first two kilometers and VND4,300 for each subsequent kilometer.
Grab is the most popular ride-hailing service in Vietnam. Data from Statista show that 66% of consumers used Grab services in 2021, and its market position is particularly strong in major urban cities. As one of the first to offer app-based transportation services in Vietnam, Grab is dominating Vietnam’s booming ride-hailing industry.