S M Ong: Gojek Saga Vol 2 – ‘$7 you want to make an issue?’
Last week, Gojek announced that it is improving the welfare of its Singapore drivers by introducing a benefits programme called GoalBetter, which includes fuel rebates and prolonged medical leave insurance.
Just in time too because one Gojek driver who seems to really need improved welfare is Mr Aaron Heng, the social media villain of the week.
Remember the Gojek "kidnapping" video two months ago? This is like the sequel but with new characters. So maybe it should be called a "reboot" instead?
Anyway, the premise and format is the same. The driver fears the passenger is accusing him of cheating. So to protect himself, he records a vertical video of his interaction with the passenger and it goes viral.
This could be a new TV reality anthology series called Singapore Gojek Story or The Gojek Zone. Jordan Peele could host it.
The first episode is obviously called "Is it because I'm Chinese?" The second episode can be called "For $7, you are kicking up a big fuss."
The stars of this episode are Mr Heng and an elderly couple he picked up. Once again, the video starts in medias res, meaning in the middle of the story, so you're not shown what led up to the events in the video.
It appears that when the passenger made the booking, he thought the fare was $14.10, but after getting into Mr Heng's car, he learnt it was $21.10 on Mr Heng's app.
So Mr Heng pulled his car over as the passenger called Gojek for clarification.
Meanwhile, Mr Heng was unhappy that he was accused of overcharging and kept interjecting while the passenger was on the phone.
The driver said: "$7 you want to make an issue? You waste my time. You're driving Mercedes one, is it?"
The passenger eventually agreed to pay the $21 and said he would sort it out with Gojek later. Mr Heng was not happy about that either.
He said: "You know why? Because if you sort out with Gojek, Gojek will minus out the $7 from my account."
"Then that is something you got to sort out with Gojek," said the passenger.
The video ends after the couple manage to convince Mr Heng to continue driving.
Like the Gojek "kidnap" video, Mr Heng's video went viral. Unlike the earlier video, which garnered much support for the driver, Mr Heng's video did the opposite.
Someone commented on Facebook: "Evil. No good heart! After all can talk nicely n be patient to settle but not actlike hooligans lah. Completely a low-class driver!"
It wouldn't be a surprise if someone threatened to egg him.
MOUTHS TO FEED
On Saturday, Mr Heng apologised on Facebook: "I openly notified the couple that I am doing a recording…
"I cannot afford to lose this job. I've mouths to feed…
"Why I behave in such a manner is because I was accused of overcharging the passenger. I did not. It is the system...
"What I said in the video was to say that I am just trying to hit my incentives as the fares are already low. The pressure is immense.
"Lastly, I want to apologise for my behaviour as shown in the video as time is precious to us as a private hire driver. I was unnecessarily rude. I was not respectful. I did not explain myself clearly. I pray for a chance to make good."
But his apology was about as well received as a rat in a Teochew restaurant.
One person wrote: "What's the point of coming up with this sob story? You are sorry cos u got caught."
Mr Heng's Facebook page is no longer available.
But here is the twist. On Saturday, Mr Heng also made a police report. In it, he said that he sent the video to a WhatsApp group "asking for advice" and named the people in the chat group.
He seems to be implying that someone in the group made the video public, not him. This despite him telling the passenger in the video: "I'll make it (the video) very big. Trust me, brother."
Gojek has since said that the company looked into the case and had resolved the matter between the driver and his passengers.
By the way, under the company's new GoalBetter programme, drivers who use their DBS or POSB debit cards to pay for fuel will also get a $7.50 weekly rebate if they spend at least $180 a week.
That is how you can get your $7 back right there.