India has accused ride-hailing companies of overcharging loyal customers who regularly take the same route and has asked six platforms to be part of a scheme offering third-party complaints handling services.
The directive to join the scheme was issued during a meeting with officials from India’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which was attended by Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo. The platforms were advised to improve responses to customer concerns and rights and were invited to become ‘convergence partners’ in India’s national consumer helpline. These partners are required to accept and resolve consumer complaints reported to the Helpline.
The Department said ride-sharing companies must register for the helpline for reasons such as their algorithms set fares in ways that are not easy to understand – sometimes even charging higher fares loyal customers as beginners on the same route.
The Department is also concerned that ride-sharing platforms fail to provide appropriate responses from customer support, pre-screen expensive add-ons that appear on customers’ bills without their consent, and have failed to act to prevent drivers to reject online payment and insist on cash.
Drivers are also accused of refusing to operate the air conditioning even when it was promised as a premium service. Other drivers are forcing passengers to cancel rides the drivers don’t want to take, which means customers are stuck with cancellation fees.
As for cancellation fees, the companies have been accused of having opaque practices on the time limit that users must respect to cancel a race free of charge and the sums claimed.
And when someone wants to deal with related complaints, the apps have a reputation for being slow to resolve with contactless service, making it nearly impossible to connect with customer support staff. The Department also complained that written responses to complainants are often provided in predefined formats.
Some users have taken to good old Twitter for answers.
Hey Pronab, sorry to hear about the hassle here. This is absolutely not the kind of experience we would like you to have. Could you please send us your registered details from which the trip was requested via direct message? We will follow up. https://t.co/1WqzzOmdKe
— Uber India Support (@UberINSupport) May 9, 2022
This is not the first time that Indian taxi aggregators have been accused of malice.
In 2018, an independent lawyer alleged that carpooling platforms Ola and Uber have used their algorithms to facilitate price fixing between drivers. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) ultimately dismissed an appeal to investigate the platforms.
In January, the Delhi government Posted a draft cab rig guidelines policy that included the requirement for operating licenses, government registration of drivers, customer service centers, and fee transparency. Policies could cap price increases at twice the base rate set by the government. ®