The rating for Bolt Driver on Google Play Store had suddenly dropped to 1.1 star. The surprising development prompted an investigation, and we soon discovered that the poor rating was due to ongoing protests by Bolt drivers.
- The drivers are protesting against Bolt’s recent operational changes which they perceived as unfair to them.
- Among other things, Bolt was accused of constantly choosing to favour riders at the expense of the drivers.
- We spoke to Bolt to hear the company’s side of the story. Keep reading to see what the Country Manager at Bolt in Nigeria, Femi Akin-Laguda, had to say about the development.
The drivers are protesting against Bolt’s recent operational changes which they perceived as unfair to them. One driver who spoke anonymously to Business Insider Africa accused the ride hailing service of constantly choosing to favour riders at the expense of the drivers.
Google Play Store is full of complaints by Bolt drivers. A good example is this one by Uche Oti which said: “The current app seems to favour the riders instead of your partners, the drivers. Except if otherwise there’s a plot to kick most of your drivers whose source of living is driving, the following should be looked into: 1. Driver’s rating 2. Bonuses giving to riders: quite ridiculous when you end a trip only to find out that you are collecting only 50% of the fare. What if I was hoping to make up money to buy fuel or something? There’s nothing wrong if riders are giving between 5-10% bonus.”
Other drivers complained that Bolt now penalizes them every time a rider cancels a ride. According to a driver named Ejiako Joel, drivers could also get penalized for canceling a ride after waiting about 20 minutes at the pick up location for the rider. He then described the new features as irrational, alleging that perhaps this is part of Bolt’s ploy to get rid of some of its drivers.
Another issue that the Bolt drivers seriously complained about is that the new features now make it possible for riders to book drivers who are far away from them. And what this means is that the drivers would have to drive 20 to 30 minutes to the rider’s location. Rejecting the trip is often not an option, as doing so would attract penalties.
"Once driver rate or scores goes below 4.5 they block you for ever. They've made drivers slaves to riders by begging for rating, this is so annoying," Akinwale Adeiya complained.
In the meantime, the embittered drivers are of the opinion that since Bolt is bent on “frustrating” them, they would also return the favour with a barrage of poor ratings on the Bolt Driver app. Their expectation is that Google would eventually delete the app from its store and everyone losses
the company was reached out to hear the company’s side of the story. And according to Femi Akin-Laguda who is Country Manager at Bolt in Nigeria, the complaints have been received and the company is working with the drivers to resolve the dispute.
“Bolt respects the right of all our users to raise issues and concerns that they would like to bring to the attention of our team. We can confirm that we have received multiple comments about a recent operational change via the Google Playstore and other channels.
“We are currently communicating with our drivers and educating them about these changes, which represent a significant improvement for our industry. We are confident that with further communication, our drivers will understand the objectives and practicalities of the introduced changes are to the benefit of transparency and improved service conditions for drivers and align with our goal of building an even more equitable future,” Bolt’s Country Manager said.
When asked whether his company is worried about Google deleting the Bolt Driver app due to the poor ratings, he said no.
"We can also confirm that we have a positive relationship with Google, and temporary app rating changes do not impact an app's availability to new and existing users. Therefore, our customers can rest assured that the Bolt apps will remain accessible via the Google Playstore, Apple Appstore and the Huawei App gallery.
"We will continue to engage with any of our customers with ongoing concerns, especially our drivers, and we encourage them to share their comments and concerns via in-app or through the dedicated driver support email," he assured.
Note that Bolt is one of the leading ride hailing service providers in Nigeria where it competes mainly with Uber. Last year, the company announced that it had partnered with Metro Africa Express (MAX) to co-finance the purchase of 10,000 low-emission cars for its drivers in Nigeria. The cars are said to be valued at $20,000 each.