Dear Grab Team
I’m writing to let you know about a bug in your app that I hope you will fix at the earliest convenience.
You see, when you relaunched GrabRewards in August 2017, it seemed like you guys had no idea what a rewards program was supposed to look like. 8,000 points for a 20% off Zalora voucher with a minimum spend of $120 plus a long exclusion list? 3,000 points for a 12% off Althea voucher with a minimum spend of $50 and maximum discount of $10?
But over time, the selection improved, which led me to believe you’d learned to source rewards with genuine value, instead of coupons you’d expect to receive in your spam folder. You added KrisFlyer as a partner program. You gave people an incentive to earn Platinum by providing favorable redemption rates for Grab vouchers.
So when I opened up my Grab app this morning and saw that GrabRewards earning rates had been cut by up to 90%, I knew immediately that something must be wrong. After all, there was no prior notice or warning. Just a cheerful push notification, proudly stating “more ways to earn points!”
I knew that this had to be a bug because back in May when people were complaining about the lack of promo codes, your country head said–
“The discounts you get from your Grab rides are still there. You just need to redeem them from the rewards catalogue… I personally believe it is more exciting that way, rather than just promos”
It was clear to me that he was proposing the following deal: we won’t give you upfront discounts through promo codes, but we’re going to make it up to you by backloading discounts through rewards redemptions. That was logical, because it rewarded people who were loyal to Grab and motivated them to keep earning. And although I found it hard to believe that people would prefer spending their points to getting free $3 off codes in their mail, I knew he was referring to the motivational aspect of rewards programs– the psychological feeling of accomplishment when you earn your award.
That’s why I’m certain this sudden change in earning rates must be a bug, because what he said would make no sense at all if the program could devalue without notice. Think about it: wouldn’t a rewards program lose its motivational element if value could disappear at a Thanos-esque snap of the fingers? If I went to bed having to spend $120 to earn a $5 voucher and woke up having to spend $367?
I mean, devaluing without notice would be fundamentally damaging to the fabric of your loyalty program. Imagine you lived in a country where the government could declare overnight that today’s $1 would buy $0.50 of goods tomorrow. You wouldn’t have much faith in that currency, right? And, if given a choice, you’d start acquiring other, more stable currencies. Come on, it’s an entire chapter in our Social Studies textbooks- Japanese Occupation, Straits Dollars, Banana Money.
So there’s no way you could have devalued without notice, Grab, because by doing so you’d be turning your points into Banana Money. Moreover, you’d be creating an incredible disincentive to earn GrabRewards points, which wouldn’t make sense for you either.
Another thing: it seems this bug isn’t just affecting the earning rates; it’s also affecting the cost of redemptions. When I went to bed, elite members enjoyed a discount on Grab vouchers. But when I woke up, the cost of vouchers was now the same across the board!
There’s no way this is correct, because your social media channels have made it very clear that you’re actively looking to better reward your loyal customers. It would be a very strange way of rewarding loyalty if a Platinum member who spent more than $1,000 with Grab over the last 6 months suddenly had to pay the same prices as someone who signed up today!
All that said guys, I tell you the number one reason I’m convinced all this is a simple misunderstanding: Moves like this would be something you’d expect in a market where one participant wielded an unhealthy amount of market power. And we know that’s simply not the case here. After all, in your objection to the CCCS’s report, didn’t you say that-
“the CCCS has not taken into account the dynamic developments and intense competition going on over the past few months, from both new and incumbent taxi and ride-hailing players.”
Right on! In a market with intense competition as this, how could a provider show such disdain for its loyal members knowing full well they have a veritable smorgasbord of alternatives to turn to? How could they insult their intelligence by spinning this as an enhancement? How could they expect members to stay loyal in the future when it’s not reciprocated? It would be completely unthinkable!
Therefore, I hope your team has time over the weekend to make the necessary fixes to GrabRewards. And no hard feelings- we know it’s an innocent mistake and you didn’t mean to make all these changes.
Because you’d just be pissing off your most loyal customers if not.
P.S: there are a lot of people on your Facebook page reporting this same bug. But I think your Facebook page has an error as well, because the admins keep sending template responses instead of genuine answers. You might want to get this checked too.