The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on Friday said that it has issued notices to Ola and Uber, the two online ride-hailing platforms for unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights.
“As per the data from the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), from 01.04.2021 to 01.05.2022, 2,482 grievances were registered by consumers against Ola and 770 grievances were registered against Uber,” said the CCPA.
Last week, the Department in a meeting with ride-hailing companies Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo directed them to become convergence partner in the National Consumer Helpline, to enable better grievance redressal for consumers and also comply with Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and e-commerce rules.
In terms of nature of grievances, 1340 (54 per cent) dockets were registered against SoftBank-backed Ola were about ‘deficiency in services’. 521 (21 per cent) dockets registered were about ‘paid amount not refunded’. Other nature of grievances were related to unauthorised charges, overcharging and promised ‘gift not given’.
For Uber India, 473 (61 per cent) dockets related to ‘deficiency in services’ were registered. 105 (14 per cent) dockets registered were about ‘paid amount not refunded.’ Other nature of grievances were related to unauthorised charges, overcharging and promised ‘gift not given.
CCPA said the primary issues raised in the notices included ‘deficiency in service’. This includes lack of proper response from customer support, driver refusing to take payment by online mode and insisting for cash only. It also includes a higher amount charged despite going on the same route previously at a lesser charge, unprofessional driver behaviour and driver refusing to switch on AC when the consumer is promised AC ride on the app.
It said there is an inadequate consumer grievance redressal mechanism in absence of both ‘customer care number’ and details of the ‘grievance officer’ as required to be mentioned on the platform. There is an unreasonable levy of cancellation charge wherein users are not shown the amount of time within which cancelling a ride is permitted. The amount of cancellation charge is not displayed prominently on the platform before booking the ride. Undue cancellation charges are borne by users when they are forced to cancel the ride due to the unwillingness of the driver to accept the ride or come at the pick-up location.
CCPA said the other issue is that there is a lack of any information on the algorithm or method used by the company to charge different fares for the same route from two individuals. Inclusion of charges for add-on services by pre-ticked boxes for including add-on services without obtaining consent by explicit and affirmative action before each ride.
“It may be mentioned that a significant number of complaints have been lodged by consumers across the country on multiple issues which affect their rides booked through both the ride-hailing platforms, said CCPA. “We are regularly monitoring the consumer protection landscape in the country.”
The CCPA has given 15-day time to the cab aggregators to reply to the notice.
On May 10, the central government warned cab aggregators of strict action unless they improve their systems and redress rising consumer complaints.
The government also rebuked them over alleged unfair trade practices including their ride cancellation policies, in a meeting held with representatives of cab aggregators such as Ola, Uber, Meru, Rapido and Jugnu.
Earlier, the government said that it has received complaints that drivers are forcing customers to cancel trips despite accepting bookings, resulting in consumers paying unnecessary fines.
The authority has shared related statistics with the cab aggregators and asked them to improve their services and redress consumer complaints otherwise the authority will take strict action against them, Consumer Affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh had said.
The online taxi services market in the country was valued at INR 2,975 Cr in FY19 and was expected to grow to INR 6,159 Cr by 2024 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.60%, according to a report.
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