Govt Will Punish Ola, Uber If Customers Face Cancellations, Higher Tariff, & Drivers’ Rude Behavior

Govt Will Punish Ola, Uber If Customers Face Cancellations, Higher Tariff, & Drivers' Rude Behavior
Govt Will Punish Ola, Uber If Customers Face Cancellations, Higher Tariff, & Drivers’ Rude Behavior

The consumer affairs ministry has warned online cab aggregators of strict action if they don’t address mounting consumer complaints.

They also have to stop using unfair trade practices.

Cancellation Menace

Some of them are levying inconsistent cancellation charges, insurance and Covid charges for each ride without customers’ explicit consent.

One of the major ride apps has revealed to ministry officials that in more than 30% cases, the driver forces customers to cancel the ride.

It came to this conclusion after monitoring the frequency of calls between customer and driver post booking. 

Lack Of Professionalism

What typically happens is that drivers ask the riders what fare the Uber app is showing.

They then decide if they want to take the ride or not depending on the amount and if it is in cash, forcing the riders to cancel the ride.

Many complaints pertain to this practice, for which customers end up paying the cancellation charges.

Common Complaints

Other issues flagged by the ministry include:

  • Lack of proper response from customer support
  • Pre ticked boxes including add on services without customer’s awareness
  • Driver insisting on cash payment
  • Driver refusing to turn on AC
  • No customer care number on platform
  • No details of grievance officer
  • No prior info on time within which one can cancel ride
  • Inconsistent cancelation charges
  • Cancelation charge not prominently displayed on app

Meeting Outcomes

The ministry officials met with Uber, Ola, Meru Cabs, Rapido and Jugnoo, saying that the majority of the consumer complaints had to do with deficiency in services.

Two of the other major grievances were non-refund of paid amount and unauthorised charges.

Post meeting Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said that they have been asked to improve their system and redress consumer complaints, failing which they will face strict action.

The ministry is expected to formulate guidelines for online cab aggregators to protect consumers.

It will likely lay down standard operating procedures (SOPs) on addressing consumer grievances with set timelines.

Mystery Of Different Rates For Same Route

The ministry also rapped the aggregator for not disclosing the algorithm or method they use to charge different fares for the same route from two individuals.

There is a difference in the fare charged from first-time passengers and regular passengers for the same destination.

Because of this users are forced to take rides at arbitrary fares.

Marketing Tactic?

The Central Consumer Protection Authority believes that old customers are charged exorbitant rates while new riders are being attracted by low fares for the same distance.

It will ask the companies to present their algorithms related to ride cancellations and surge pricing.

As part of the E-commerce Rules which covers aggregators, they have to have a designated grievances redressal officers and 24×7 helpline number.

Uber’s Fraudulent Conduct In Australia

Nitish Bhushan, head of central operations at Uber India and South Asia, said that the company is engaged with the Department of Consumer Affairs and appreciates its feedback.

He added that they are “committed to raising the bar — for ourselves, our industry, and most importantly for the people who use our services.”

Uber had admitted in Australia in front of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that it made false or misleading statements in cancellation warning messages and taxi fare estimates.

More than two million Australian consumers were shown the misleading cancellation warning.

It now faces $26 million (Australian dollars) in penalties.

Public Advisory

The government has shared the various ways the public can lodge complaints.

They can do so on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH). 

Consumers can also call on the Consumer Helpline Toll-free number.

The government has also advised that the bills and information of all services should be kept safe.

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