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Solons: Why isn’t Grab giving automatic senior discounts?

Lawmakers on Thursday ordered the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to investigate ride-hailing firm Grab for certain practices that they said was indicative of the company’s reckless monopoly of the industry.

Grab was accused of not providing the mandated 20-percent discount to senior citizens, as well as operating around 8,000 “colorum” vehicles, among other violations.

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While the accusations are not new, pressure from Congress could place Grab at the cusp of another legal battle that could end in hefty fines.

“How come with other players we can impose the full law but with big companies like Grab, they barely get beyond a slap on the wrist?” asked Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves during the House committee hearing.

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Teves noted the company’s seeming lack of mechanisms to ensure that the senior citizen discount automatically applies whenever they book rides or order food via the app.

Grab spokesperson Nicka Hosaka told lawmakers that Grab already recognizes and applies the discount for senior citizen users who register onto the platform.  Registration includes inputting one’s age and other personal information followed by a three-day verification process, after which registered users are allowed to enjoy the discount.

But Teves argued: “Let’s say I, a nonsenior citizen, books a ride, but it is my grandmother who will actually ride. Do they get a discount?”

Blatant violation

When Hosaka said no, Teves turned to LTFRB technical division chief Joel Bolano and said: “See, that is a blatant violation of the law.”

LTFRB board member Ronaldo Corpus explained that the matter had already been brought up in previous hearings.

In a separate interview, Grab public affairs head Leo Gonzales told the Inquirer that the 8,000 colorum drivers still in their books were a carryover problem from Uber’s Southeast Asian operations, which Grab acquired in April 2017.

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While Grab was getting rid of about 500 colorum drivers a week, doing so drastically could “cause the entire market to collapse,” Gonzales said.

That dire prediction illustrates Grab’s monopoly, Teves said, such that a slight change in their ecosystem could provoke “carmageddon.”

The LTFRB had allowed unregistered transport network vehicle service units to continue operating provided they apply for renewal.

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TAGS: Grab, LTFRB, Senate, senior discounts, solon
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