Careem has hit out against criticism of its Dirhams for Delays campaign, insisting it has the most reliable service in Dubai, and that driver safety and flexibility remain a top priority.
The campaign offers customers Dh1 for every minute of delay in food delivery, with a maximum limit of Dh10 per order. Money is transferred to the customer’s account in credit through Careem Pay if there is a delay in delivery.
The campaign created a stir with competitors Talabat and Deliveroo, as well as social media users, who criticised Careem for putting pressure on drivers and risking their safety.
Alex Golden, general manager of food at Careem, responded by saying the campaign focuses on speedy preparation in the kitchen and not just delivery time.
“This isn't about speed. It is about us making promises and keeping promises," Mr Golden said in an interview on Dubai Eye radio's Business Breakfast programme.
“What consumers may not know is that the drive time and your total delivery time are only a small portion. It's really about the kitchen preparation."
He said the captains – as riders are called in the company – are not directly involved or affected by the campaign.
“Our captains have a separate app. All they see is how to get from A to B and how to contact the customer. So they don't know whether they are early, whether they are late. The money comes out of our pocket. Safety is super important to us, but, this is about us being reliable.
“Every consumer wants their food on time. It's a no-brainer. So we're putting our money where our mouth is, and giving dirhams for delays.
“Reliability is something we're proud of, we know we do better.”
Talabat chief executive Tomaso Rodriguez and Deliveroo general manager Anis Harb have publicly criticised Careem’s campaign.
The Dirhams for Delay campaign will end on June 8 and it is not clear whether it will continue.
Mr Golden said the company stands by the campaign and is happy that it is “creating noise”.
“We are proud of what we're doing," he added.
“We think it's a great thing that consumers are voicing their concern and it is on us to clarify what it is.
“What a lot of [people] may not know is that some are delivering multiple orders at once.
“We have ‘one captain one order.’ So, experiencing these delays on other platforms is often a result of delivering multiple orders at once, which means if food is more likely to be late, it's more likely to be cold.”
Without revealing numbers, Mr Golden claimed the campaign has won the company a lot of new customers.
“We are seeing a lot of consumers jumping over and giving us a go. So rather than stopping the campaign, we want to make it really clear that captain well-being and safety are at the core of what we do,” he said.
“We want to stand by having the most reliable service in Dubai.
“Captain well-being is super important. Making sure that they have a fair wage, that they have the flexibility to work when they want.
“These are things we're proud of. I think by being open and transparent, it encourages all of us to top the bar and raise our game. I think that's a really good thing.”