Hanoi taxi companies steer clear of cab-hailing app GrabTaxi amid branding concerns

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GrabTaxi has become a popular cab-hailing app in Vietnam. Photo: T.Luan
Many taxi companies in Hanoi have ordered their drivers to stop picking up passengers via GrabTaxi, a cab-booking mobile application that has gained popularity in Southeast Asia in recent years. 
News website Saigon Times Online reported on Wednesday that the companies are worried about losing their own brand values if passengers keep using the booking service that does not let them choose any particular cab companies.
The passengers do not care which company is serving them and they identify all the taxis collectively as GrabTaxi. 
Some "dubious" drivers in the GrabTaxi's network can hurt the reputation of their companies too, they said. 
Thanh Cong was the latest company to order its drivers to stop using the service, even after its passenger number surged 15 percent in eight months, the website reported.
Previously, Sao Hanoi and Ba Sao companies severed ties with GrabTaxi, threatening to fine drivers VND10 million ($452) or even fire them if they continue to use the app. 
GrabTaxi Vietnam said the company had not received any official announcement from the taxi companies about the termination, and that it heard the news from taxi drivers only.
The company said it will have a meeting with the taxi companies soon.
Asked about the claim that it collaborated with dubious taxis, GrabTaxi said those which did not belong to a taxi company operated under a so-called "super cheap" service.
Customers who used the service were limited to the distance of 10 kilometers each trip, an unnamed driver said, adding that drivers were subsidized VND40,000 ($1.8) per trip and the subsidy was restricted to 15 trips a day.
Developed by two Harvard Business School graduates and launched in Malaysia in 2012 as MyTeksi, GrabTaxi was launched in Vietnam last June and soon included the local popular xe om, or motorbike taxi, in a separate service known as GrabBike.
GrabTaxi has been luring Vietnamese customers with frequent discounts, VND15,000-30,000 per taxi trip, and offering much lower rates for xe om users.
The app allows passengers to record the vehicles' license number and drivers' names on their cell phones. It also gives them a price estimate for their planned journey. 

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