Let us recap with the latest incident. On August 4, 2014, GrabTaxi tweeted: “Epic fail by competitors trying to put up fake store reviews LOL!” Along with the tweet was a screen capture of a one-star review left by a “Easy Taxi Cebu”. Here is the screen capture:
The thing is, anyone can leave such a review with “Easy Taxi Cebu” as their nickname. The app developer or owner, on the other hand, will not be able to verify whether the comment was really left by Easy Taxi Cebu or even other competitors. Sharing such a review without any proof might not have been the best way to address this issue.
Later, an account belonging to a “Mario Berta” replied:
@GrabTaxi you think that Easy Taxi will be so stupid to do it under their name if ever they wanna do it ? you are faking sympathy.
— Mario Berta (@marioberta) August 5, 2014
Is this the same Mario Berta, Regional CEO at Easy Taxi, as of February 2014? While there was nothing about Easy Taxi in his account description, various tweets made by that same handle were enough to pinpoint his identity, regardless of whether it was really the Easy Taxi executive’s account.
The fight continued with Cheryl Goh, Regional Marketing Head, GrabTaxi replying,
Goh’s tweet came with a screen capture of a conversation taking place between a “Izuddin Helmi” and Easy Taxi Malaysia.
It was impossible to watch. Paul Malicki, Global CMO, Easy Taxi, then replied:
The attacks from either side ended with this tweet from the official Easy Taxi Philippines account:
Is this the sort of dialogue we want to see between seeming rivals? The perennial strife between Easy Taxi and GrabTaxi even reminded this author of the relationship between taxi apps Uber and Lyft in the US. Both are wasting time and resources wanting to win in a bitter, caustic and juvenile manner.
Not the first but what about the last?
This isn’t the first time we have seen or heard about rivalry between the two leading third-party taxi apps in Southeast Asia.
In January 2014, MyPaper published an article about how Easy Taxi has alleged that GrabTaxi was being anti-competitive by displaying misleading images that might sway cab drivers to delete the former’s app. The latter then clarified that “nothing sinister was intended”, according to the same report.
Then, in February 2014, e27 wrote about Anthony Tan, CEO, GrabTaxi and his humble entrepreneurial beginnings, which resulted in a rather feisty conversation in the comments section. While the veracity of each commenter’s identity cannot be determined, it was clear that it wasn’t friendly between the two companies. In that comment thread, there were allegations that GrabTaxi has poached two sales teams from its competition over a period of three months, amongst other claims.
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Two months later, when GrabTaxi announced raising an eight-figure sum investment, Easy Taxi was the first competitor to publicly congratulate the Singapore- and Malaysia-based firm. Whether it was a sincere move is another point of contention.
So yes, this isn’t the first time we have seen or heard about such a thing happening between the two. While some might say that competition brings innovation and a better experience for customers, this just does not seem like it. In a sense, having a calm and private conversation about unfair strategies is one thing, but calling a competitor out for posting a fake review is another.
After all, to be fair, these two companies are not bad firms; they provide customers with the convenience of knowing that there is a cab out there, and a safe way of commuting via taxi cabs. Instead of helping the category grow, GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi are investing their time in bickering over petty issues. Furthermore, such an incident can really diminish the image of a company, rendering it labelled as ‘spiteful’ and ‘calculative’.
Take the high road here. Let this go, and hopefully, this will be the last of Easy Taxi and GrabTaxi’s public fights.