SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing service Grab has suspended a driver with its non-commercial carpooling service GrabHitch after an incident in which his pet chihuahua bit a passenger on Christmas Day.
The passenger, Nanyang Technological University student Rushdan Eilyaas, shared photos of his wound as well as a detailed account of the encounter on Facebook on Tuesday (Dec 27).
The 24-year-old part-time usher said he had booked a GrabHitch ride after work in the wee hours of Dec 25 and the driver arrived in a silver Chevrolet instead of a Mercedes Benz as indicated in the app.
He also noticed a small dog in the front seat which he initially thought was a soft toy. “While I was shocked, I didn’t want to kick up a fuss ... I really wanted to just get home,” he said.
Still, he said it was “unprofessional” on the driver’s part to accept the booking. “I thought it’s just very basic courtesy to at least inform your passenger - especially with a Muslim-sounding name - if he might be OK with it?”
Mr Rushdan said he sat in the front of the car after the driver berated him for trying to sit in the back seat. “Throughout the entire trip, the driver didn’t stop being obnoxious. He lectured me about the 'hitch culture' ... He claimed that as passengers taking the GrabHitch option, it isn't right to sit at the back and treat the owners of the car as our ‘cheapest drivers to get to our destination’,” he wrote.
As he unbuckled his seatbelt and was about to alight, the dog jumped and bit him, leaving him with a wound that looked superficial, but was “pretty deep” and painful to the touch.
"Ultimately, this is a story of how my S$6 GrabHitch ride became a S$123.40 matter as I had incurred S$117.40 worth of medical bills that included a tetanus shot and antibiotics,” Mr Rushdan said.
He has since filed a police report and has been contacted by officers from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), he said.
Grab has also reached out to him, offering to reimburse him for the ride and for his medical bills. Mr Rushdan said their response to the episode was “professional and efficient”.
In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, Grab said the driver was suspended for violating its code of conduct in using a car that was not registered on the Grab platform.
A spokesperson added that Grab does not restrict GrabHitch drivers from bringing certified pets on board their own vehicles. “However, we strongly encourage them to inform their passengers beforehand if they do. Likewise, passengers who plan to travel with their pets should also inform their GrabHitch drivers ahead of time. Both GrabHitch drivers and passengers have full rights to decline a ride should they feel uncomfortable with it,” the spokesperson said.
“We hope that all Grab drivers and passengers treat each other with mutual respect - and are sensitive to various preferences - so that everyone enjoys the best ride experience.”
Mr Rushdan told Channel NewsAsia he would not shy away from using GrabHitch again, but will use the experience as a lesson. “No one is expecting five-star treatment from anyone. All I ask is everyone be respectful, rational and civilised,” he concluded.