Why grab a Grab?

by Bea Toews

You live here. You have a bank account from which money can be drawn. You’re tired of being told it’s 500B to get to Silom – and the metre doesn’t work. You’re sick of a taxi pulling up, rolling down the window, considering your destination and saying “mai di”. You don’t like taxis that smell of tobacco and beer. You don’t like taxi drivers who take the long way around to gain an increased fare – and you don’t know the city well enough to tell. You don’t have impeccable Thai and can give muddled addresses. You don’t have small change. 

Are those not enough reasons to grab a Grab? It took me two minutes to set download the free App, another two minutes to link my savings bank account to Grab. Then two minutes to set up my home destination. Then I called Grab. Five minutes later, a car pulled up and my ride was waiting and off I went.

How did I know it was the car for me? I knew the license plate number. I watched his car approaching my address. Not only that, I knew how much the fare would be and I didn’t have to have correct change. The driver has GPS and a map on his phone. I have the same map on mine. He has my destination. I can sit back watch the world go by, use my phone, chat to a friend and relax.

A few minutes after arriving at my destination, my phone pinged with a receipt for the amount of the fare that I had been quoted. I know, if it’s heavy traffic, that there will be a surcharge. I know that before I get in the car and I am happy with that. Brilliant. The most important thing is that the driver is accountable – and he knows it and he, therefore, behaves accordingly and is a credit to his company, his country and himself.

Why the Thai authorities do not enforce the fact that all taxi drivers are registered with Grab I do not know. Surely it would be good for the tourist industry in Thailand. This is supposed to be the Land of Smiles after all. It may be more authentic to deal with recalcitrant and surly drivers, to muddle your way through a ride, especially if you are a tourist and have no idea where you are going, distances involved, the correct pronunciation, confident and at ease with the currency. But to arrive at your destination cool, calm and collected, grab a Grab.

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