So, the usual innovation laggard that I am, I downloaded the Uber app and took Uber for the first time yesterday. The trip was supposed to cost me GHC32. Car shows up at my gate.
I get in. About 2 minutes into the journey, the driver, a well-spoken young man, makes me an offer:
He could “terminate” the trip for Uber accounting purposes a few hundred yards away and still take me to my destination for the same amount.
Why would he do such a thing, I inquired. He gives me two “cost saving” reasons, one for me, one for himself:
For me, if we encountered heavy traffic and delays on the way, the quoted price could be revised upwards by Uber upon reaching my destination; for him, Uber takes 25% of the fare. In other words, dude wanted to enlist my cooperation in his plan to cheat Uber and thought to throw me a little inducement for the trouble.
This guy does not know me from Adam, yet only 2 minutes after first meeting me he’s trying to make a corrupt deal with me. I turn down his offer, of course, and proceed to quiz him on his plan.
So what if Uber took 25%? Why is that a big deal? Had Uber not made it possible for him to make an income by finding him a fare without effort or expense on his part? Isn’t that worth something?
Didn’t he want Uber, too, to make a profit and survive? What would happen if all of his fellow Uber drivers acted similarly and caused Uber to fold up in Ghana?
“Anyway you’re right, Sir” was all this “future leader of Ghana” could say. (He’s studying for a degree in business, he tells me. That means he could be a Deputy Minister or some other big appointee by the time Nanasei turns 10, assuming he finds the right patron). And what if Uber detected his dishonesty?
To which he replied that the customer can decide to terminate his or her trip midway for any number of reasons.
Anyway, the trip continued to my destination, the two of us chatting along the way. When the trip ended, I reminded him that his next customer would likely come from an address closer to my destination than where he had suggested he “terminate” the trip for accounting purposes.
He agreed. I asked if that would not make it easy for Uber to detect his dishonesty. He agreed that it might. I advised him to stay honest with Uber as that’s the only way both he and Uber would remain in business.
He thanked me for the advice.
Thus ended my first Uber driver experience in Accra. I wish it was an experience without one more reminder of the shameful want of integrity in this town.
“The beautyful ones are not born.”