Consumer rights body pulls up Ola, Uber over unfair trade practices

Cancellations by drivers, insistence on cash payments, rude behaviour, differential pricing on the same route, and refusal to switch on the AC top complaints

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In the past 13 months, consumers have registered over 3,200 complaints against the two cab aggregators with the National Consumer Helpline. Representational image

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued notices to cab aggregators Ola and Uber for alleged violation of consumer rights and unfair trade practices. The two are required to respond to the notices within a fortnight or face punitive action.

In just 13 months, over 3,200 complaints have been raised against Ola and Uber with the National Consumer Helpline. These mostly relate to deficiency in services and other unfair trade practices, such as cancellations by drivers, insistence on cash payments, rude driver behaviour, differential pricing on the same route, and refusal to switch on the AC.

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There is opaqueness around the algorithm used to arrive at the fares, said the notice to the cab aggregators. “Undue cancellation charges are borne by users when they are forced to cancel the ride due to unwillingness of the driver to accept the ride or come to the pick-up location,” it added.

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In the case of Ola, 54 per cent of the complaints were related to the deficiency in services, while in the case of Uber, the figure was 64 per cent. 

Ministry holds meeting

The notices to the two companies were issued days after the Consumer Affairs Ministry called a meeting on May 10 with cab aggregators. At the meeting, the Ministry warned of strict action unless they improved their systems and redressed rising consumer complaints.  The meeting was attended by representatives of Ola, Uber, Meru, Rapido, and Jugnu. 

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“We told them about the rising consumer complaints against their platforms. We gave them the statistics also. We have asked them to improve their system and redress the consumer complaints; otherwise, the competent authority will take strict action,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh had said after the meeting. 

Drivers up in arms

Meanwhile, the cab drivers have been complaining about rising fuel costs making their trade unviable. Just last month, drivers of both Ola and Uber went on a flash strike against the soaring fuel costs. They pointed out that fares have not been revised for nearly seven years now. 

Responding to such complaints, Uber India last week raised its fares to “cushion drivers”. 

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