“It’s ridiculous. [Careem has been] pretty much acting like a monopoly.”
Nisma Chauhan, a young female journalist, uses Careem to travel from her home in Gulshan-e-Iqbal to her workplace in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) generally on a daily basis. Lately, she, like many other Careem users, has been outraged by the peak factor that has been prevailing pretty much all day since Chand Raat.
“Usually, I pay around Rs300 from my place to office,” she tells Samaa. Now, owing to the peak factor that has been in place since Chand Raat, she pays somewhere around Rs700, which is more than twice the amount she used to generally pay. “The peak factor has been on since Chand Raat and then [because of] the rains.”
Another young woman who requested anonymity says she has been using Careem for the past year now and prefers it over others owing to its ‘feasible’ prices. “Given that my work requires travelling all across the city, Careem works for me because it charges lesser than a rickshaw,” she says. “However, during Ramazan, they introduced peak factor owing to the ‘demand’. The peak factor would begin from 1.1, which wasn’t so bad because of the quality. However, soon it reached 2.5 in Ramazan alone and that, too, at 11pm or even 1am when it’s absurd to think that the demand would be so high.”
She says that she pays between Rs250 and Rs320 from her place in Federal B Area to her workplace on II Chundrigar Road. “[At] times, I have reached [home from work] in Rs216 as well when it’d be around 1am in the night,” she says. “However, post Chand Raat, it has become near impossible to reach home in less than Rs400 and that, too, around 1am when there is less traffic.” She adds that between 8pm and 10pm, it would easily cost her around Rs600 to Rs800 because of the peak factor.
Careem Pakistan Head of Public Affairs Sibtain Naqvi explains the concept behind the peak factor. “Peak Factor has been introduced to ultimately benefit the customers by increasing the availability of the cars and reducing the waiting time (ETA) during very busy periods,” he says. According to him, ‘peak factor is applied when there is a shortage of supply (as compared to the current demand i.e. booking requests) in a particular area at a given point in time’. He says this is done to ‘incentivize captains to come online and move to that specific location to ensure that our users are able to get a ride quickly’.
“Peak pricing occurs when the demand for cars is higher than the Captains available in a particular neighbourhood,” he says.
Unfortunately, Careem users are not quite happy with this peak pricing mechanism. “Earlier, the peak hours like 1.2 or even 1.5 were bearable,” says Chauhan. “But now it doesn’t go below 1.8. It’s mostly at 2.”
However, it is claimed by a careem’s she spokesperson that the prices will soon be minimized. “As a company, we promise affordable and convenient rides and hence, we are aggressively recruiting Captains to ensure every customer can avail a ride,” he says. “Since every Captain goes through background checks and training – this adds some time in their induction process but is extremely important from a safety point-of-view. Rest assured, the frequency of peak pricing will be minimized very soon.”