You’re an Uber driver, and you receive a pickup request. The name reads “Jung Shin”, and you’re thinking, oh an Asian passenger. You reach the pickup location and a twenty-something-year-old black dude jumps in the backseat of your car.
The only explanation in your head is that Lagos Sun has darkened his Asian skin, and somehow, given him Yoruba accent.
Conversations with drivers are always interesting if you’re in the mood. One day, they are telling you which celebrities enrolled as Uber Partners with 52 cars at once. Another day, they’re telling you how much they make weekly and how they’ll never go back to their desk jobs.
Sometimes, they tell you about how passengers are disrespectful. That’s how I and my driver start off.
“You know you’re the boss,” he says less than five minutes into the trip.
“Aren’t you a boss too?” I ask. He drives a really nice car, and I don’t even have one.
“But I’m the one who gets to drive you around,” he says.
Typical Nigerian washing formula.
“I don’t think it’s about who’s boss,” I reply, “I think it’s about mutual respect between two of us. I pay you money. You take me where I want to go.”
He takes a moment before he says, “you’re the first passenger to ever tell me this”.
Uber Tip: If you’re in the mood for fresh gist, respect your driver. He has so much he’d gladly tell you for that 5-star rating.
We end up talking about ‘Yahoo Boys’.
“The way they enter Uber, you’ll know it’s not their money,” he says.
“But what if it actually their money?” I try to counter.
“No o,” he responds. “It’s mostly from Ikorodu you pick them. They’ll request for Uber, tell you to take them to V/I, then say they forgot something, and that they need you to take them back. Even Island people don’t use Uber like that.”
He didn’t stop there. He went on to talk about how they’d literally send you halfway through Lagos to go pick up someone. On a reading metre. That’s basically paying for an empty cab to move around.
“The other day, someone sent me to go and pick his girlfriend over one hour away after I’d just dropped him off. All on a reading metre.”
That’s not the most shocking part.
“Those boys always make offers,” he continues, “they’ll tell you to pick them up and just let the metre read.”
Here’s the business side of it.
“You won’t actually pick them up. The boys will tell you to drive around and then send them their share of the money Uber pays. All you have to do is accept their ride on the app, then just drive around with a reading metre. End trip. When Uber credits your account, then you send them their cut.”
I don’t bother to ask him if he’s done it before.
I ask him how they do it.
“It’s the foreign credit cards. You know the cards are mostly Visa and MasterCards.”
Yahoo Boys have a reputation for their online scams. Part of that reputation includes stealing credit card details, and Uber is just perfect for that card part.
He explains further.
“Look at our rubbish naira. With our current exchange rate, if you enter cab for 3,000 naira, that is less than $10. The people whose cards they’re using abroad might not even notice because the money is small”
He talks about random stuff from him having to wash his cars seats every week because of make-up stains, to people taking cabs without having cash to pay.
By the time he’s done, we have reached my destination.
“Thanks boss,” he says as I step out. “Don’t forget to give me 5-star rating.”
You bet I did.
Editor’s Note: I am guessing this is why you can only login with your mobile number in Uber’s most recent update. Also, please be careful with your financial details and instruments so you don’t fall victim.
He cooks Content, Copy and Fiction/Nonfiction. He loves to explore new things in people and places. Where his wallet can't take him, he goes in books. He likes his Garri with very cold water.