In recent years, stories of fake food delivery orders targeting app-based motorcycle taxi drivers (locally known as ojek online or ojol for short) have made it into national headlines and viral online discussions in Indonesia. Such was the case for an ojol driver in Semarang, Central Java, whose unfortunate story has pulled the heartstrings of many people, including the city’s mayor.
The story began last week, when 59-year-old ojol driver Audy Hamdani received an order of 14 portions of ayam geprek (fried chicken smashed with chilli) and drinks, amounting to IDR315,000 (US$21.22) in total.
Ody, as he’s affectionately known, braved heavy rain at the time to make the delivery to South Semarang district — only to find that the address led to an empty house.
The elderly driver found a shelter nearby to prevent the food from getting wet and went on to call the customer, who then asked him to cancel the order. Not long after, the same customer phoned Ody and told him to check his balance at the ATM. He was reportedly subconsciously compelled to follow the instructions, even sending a photo of his account balance to the customer.
Afterwards, Ody gave the food to an orphanage in the area. He only found out that the customer drained IDR500,000 (US$33.67) from his account to buy phone credit just as he was about to top up his own mobile payment, and that the customer had blocked his number.
“My earnings every day range from IDR30,000 to IDR70,000 (US$2 to US$4.71). However, during the pandemic, my income fluctuates. What’s important for me is being able to work and staying healthy,” Ody said last Saturday, explaining that he had come to accept his misfortune.
Ody’s story circulated widely online to the point that Semarang Mayor Hendrar Prihadi also took notice, and later invited the ojol to his office for financial assistance.
“Hendi gave me an advice to be more careful so that a similar incident wouldn’t happen again, and he also wished me to be healthy and encourage me to keep on working,” Ody said, referring to Hendrar by his nickname and sharing how he couldn’t hold back his tears after meeting the mayor.
GrabFood, Ody’s employer, has fully compensated the costs he incurred when taking the fake order last week and deactivated the account that scammed him.
“We appeal to GrabFood users to appreciate the hard work our driver partners do in carrying out their jobs, especially during the challenging time of this pandemic,” GrabFood Indonesia’s spokesman Hady Surya Koe said.
Ody’s story adds to the long list of viral cases involving ojols who had orders canceled by their customers. The practice is especially cruel considering the harsh and competitive nature of life as an ojol, where they would often have to front the money for their customers’ purchases before delivering the goods.
Reports of fake orders began to surface since late last year — with earlier viral cases including a viral video of an ojol driver bawling for several minutes after his customer cancelled on him after having to front quite an amount of money to buy several items, followed by the 13 drivers who reportedly became victims of alleged fake food orders in the Banten capital of Serang.
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