SEOUL, April 16 (Korea Bizwire) — After only four days of poorer than expected results, South Korean cab summoning app Kakao T’s feature that hides the taxi caller’s desired destination from the driver until the pickup is agreed to has been withdrawn.
This feature was introduced as a countermeasure against drivers who would cherry-pick taxi callers depending on the desired destination after Kakao T began offering the option of quicker pickups for a commission fee.
The priority option is called “Smart Call”, an artificial intelligence-integrated function that is purported to expedite the taxi-hailing experience that was launched on April 10. Besides Smart Call, standard taxi-hailing on the Kakao T app is still free.
A Kakao spokesperson said, “[Kakao] believes that there are many cases where taxi drivers do not respond to a Smart Call because of their lack of experience with it. The service has been modified to reveal the caller’s desired destination for the purposes of increasing the number of successful pickups and boosting drivers’ comfort levels, and changes may be made down the road.”
Kakao’s decision has attracted criticism, with voices questioning why riders would rely on the Smart Call service and part with extra cash instead of opting for the free taxi-hailing option, if the safeguard blocking drivers from selecting the most attractive trips is no longer in place.
Other opinions say that the expectation that taxi drivers would willingly respond to calls without being informed of the desired destination was not realistic to begin with.
When a Smart Call results in a pickup, the rider is charged 1,000 won, of which 400 points is guaranteed to the driver. A five-star max rating from the rider grants the driver another 100 points. With taxes and surcharges paid out by Kakao, the driver gets around 60 percent of the 1,000-won commission fee according to the tech firm.
This arrangement appears to be an insufficient draw for drivers, even to anonymous citizens. One such individual wrote on a news article message board, “Which taxi driver would respond to a Smart Call without knowing the destination just to get 400 points? The service probably got a 0 percent response rate rather than poorer than expected results.”
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)