“Hey there, your Move Ride is here. Hop in and enjoy your ride,” a text message from Volkswagen Rwanda drops into Innocent Karenzi’s Samsung Smartphone.
He had requested for a ride by “Move” – one of Volkswagen Rwanda services.
The service is IT-based, where customers request for any of the three types of vehicles assembled in Rwanda using a ‘Move App’.
The “Move” service is part of the automaker’s $20 million assembly plant in Rwanda which released its first fleet of cars last year.
The App works on iOS and Android Smartphones, which operates similarly to popular international taxi hailing platforms which use the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Through the system, Karenzi had tracked a Volkswagen Polo car to pick him from his home area in Kimisagara, Nyarugenge district to Kimironko in Gasabo district in the capital Kigali.
What first struck Karenzi, however, was strange prices on three vehicles used in the service.
Normally, three cars; Teramont, Passat and Polo are displayed once a customer opens the App.
Different prices also display depending on the type of the car you are hiring.
Once you choose any of the cars among the three, your location and destination, the App displays prices and payment method. You then click and ‘Request a ride’.
Polo is the cheapest in terms of pricing, followed by Passat and Teramont – which is a SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle).
But on the face of the App, Karenzi was shocked to read that the price for Polo (Rwf10,750) was bigger than that of Passat (Rwf10,150) for the same destination.
“This was strange. I hadn’t experienced it before,” he told KT Press.
“Since I had already requested for a car, I decided to use it, despite the inflated price,” he added.
More surprises emerged. Karenzi, after several hours in Kimironko, time to return home with a similar Move ride arrived. He requested and a Move car arrived in minutes.
On arrival to the same destination, the price still surpassed what he had paid on the first ride.
“Your bill is 11,800 with trip ref #A8YKPO. Help us give you the best experience by giving us feedback at https://goo.gl/forms/FBrqLp4ZQfnBHLbr1 . Thanks!,” a Volkswagen’s Move ride department sent a text message to a now angry Karenzi.
“To more surprise, the initial price i paid to the same destination increased by Rwf1000. This was shocking. I had to ask the driver who said he wasn’t aware what is behind this unstable pricing.”
The experience prompted Karenzi to write an email to Volkswagen Rwanda’s Move ride department to inquire why he was unbearably charged.
“I never got any response,” he told KT Press.
Karenzi’s bad experience with the service had been raised by many other customers – prompting them to storm the company’s Twitter account to lodge their complaints.
Officials from Volkswagen Rwanda told KT Press that the issue was discovered three days ago, and company team had kicked off investigations.
The pressure from customers later pushed the company to apologise – promising those that were overcharged to be reimbursed.
“Dear customers all your complaints have been well received and an investigation has started,”Volkswagen Rwanda said on its Twitter account.
“All customers with billing issues will be contacted and reimbursed. Sincere apologies from the Move Team.
Keep moving with us,” the statement added.
In June last year, Rwanda became the second country to test the new Volkswagen vehicle mobility monitoring technology which will ensure security and access to the vehicles as the company plans to launch public car sharing component.
But customers using the current ‘Move’ service are yet to be satisfactorily served, with many complaining over unavailability of cars especially during weekends.
Company officials who spoke to KT Press admitted the service has been hit with growing demand compared to available cars.
Currently, there are fifty (50) driven cars in two shifts across the streets of the capital Kigali, against a growing demand of over 20,000 users of the App, according to Volkswagen officials.
Volkswagen Rwanda offered a tender to Ngali Holdings – a local company involved in transport, to provide best drivers for the Move services.
Move service users have recently start paised professionalism that characterise these drivers, while other reported poor services.
According to Volkswagen Rwanda officials, atleast 90% of the deed back from customers is positive.
Electric cars to be unveiled
In a move to get rid of gas-powered vehicles, an official at Volkswagen Rwanda told KT Press that the carmaker will, before end of this year, unveil 50 electric cars in its ride-hailing business – making Rwanda the first African country to use the cars.
Since the 1950s, the German automaker has assembled cars in South Africa, and later in Nigeria and Kenya.
The carmaker’s interest in Africa and Rwanda in particular, brings competition to other auto companies including Toyota, Hundai, Nissan and Mercedes Benz, which set foot into the Rwandan market through legal representatives.
In Rwanda, Volkswagen set up a $20 million assembly plant with a capacity to produce up to 5,000 vehicles a year and create about 1,000 jobs.
In June last year, President Paul Kagame officially tested the first Volkswagen car assembled in Rwanda – noting that ” the assembling signifies Rwanda and Africa got what they deserve brand new instead of second hand.”