Monday 1 April 2019

Gojek viral video saga vol. 2: 'Don’t make your problem to be my problem!'

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 “I’m not a millionaire like you”.

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. Eh! You’re driving Mercedes one, is it?”

The passenger replied: “That’s none of your bloody business, please.”

The word “bloody” apparently got Mr Heng even more triggered. He told the passenger: “Please talk to me with respect.”

Probably because Mr Heng picked up the couple at a country club, he said, apropos of nothing: “I’m not a millionaire like you.”

A theme emerged when he later added: “I’m driving to earn the incentive, you know that? I don’t earn $2,000 a day, you know? The incentive is only $205 for your info, you know?”

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. Let me put it clear to you, anything it becomes driver problem. Always driver’s problem. That is the problem.”

“Then that is something you got to sort out with Gojek,” said the passenger.

The 6-minute plus 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 act like hooligans lah. Completely a low-class driver!”

It wouldn’t be a surprise if someone threatened to egg him.

On Saturday, Mr Heng apologised on Facebook:
Hi. I am the driver in this video. I'm drive as a Private Hire Driver to earn a honest living to provide for my family. I've tried my hands in seeking other employment opportunity but to no avail.

I want to say I've got nothing against the elderly especially the poor and the aged. In fact, I just posted a post on how an elderly offered to buy a meal for a wheelchair person and I even went up offering to pay for his meal. They were like us and one day we will be like them. That's why I believe in helping them out if I can.

Story is like this. I picked this couple from a country club to his destination. Normally I would confirm with the rider on his destination and the amount to pay and to our surprise, we found out that there was a price discrepancy. I then told the rider that it showed $21.10 on my app while he said that he has to pay $14.10 although he refused to show me his app saying $14.10 (I asked couple of times). He suddenly got irritated and asked me to alight him immediately. For his own safety, I told him it's dangerous to abruptly stop in the middle of the road like that but he went on insisting to alight him. I obliged.

I managed to find a small road to enter to stop by the side wanting to alight him and to call GoJek to ask for instructions. I openly notified the couple that I am doing a recording just in case I am accused of overcharging the couple. 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. And 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. The terms are challenging. I'm facing a lot of stress to meet the targets.

Lastly, I want to apologise for my behaviour as shown in the video as time is precious to us as a private hirer 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 commented: “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’s the big 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’s how you can get your $7 back right there.

- Published in The New Paper, 1 April 2019