Ola, Uber and other cab aggregators meet with government over unfair trade practices

The government convened a meeting of taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber on Tuesday to discuss their policies on fare calculation, fare increases, ride cancellations and customer privacy measures they are taking, Consumer Minister Rohit Kumar Singh said on Monday. The meeting was convened amid a surge in consumer complaints about alleged unfair trading practices by these platforms, including the trip cancellation policy as drivers force customers to cancel trips after bookings have been accepted, resulting in customers paying cancellation fees.

“We have obtained information from taxi aggregators on how they deal with cancellation fees and price increases and how they calculate the fare,” Singh said on the sidelines of an event organized by the ministry.

He further said: “We asked why the fees to go from point A to point B are different for two different people.” The ministry also wants to know whether these ride-hailing apps have taken adequate measures to protect consumer data on their platforms.

“We asked for information. We will discuss with them and take further action based on the outcome,” the secretary said.

Last week, Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare said: “We have received several complaints from consumers regarding the cancellation and pricing policies of taxi aggregators. The number of complaints is very high and that is why we called the taxi aggregators to explain their policies.” Citing some examples, Khare said the regulator has received many complaints about alleged unfair trading practices, including taxi drivers forcing consumers to take a ride to cancel and bear a penalty as the drivers do not want to take the ride for some reason.

Khare said existing consumers are being charged high one-trip fares, while new users are being lured in with lower fares for the same distance.

“It seems taxi aggregators are using algorithms to attract new customers and penalize old customers. This is an unfair practice,” she added.

With that in mind, Khare said the regulator would like to understand their algorithms and other policies adopted to operate as taxi aggregators in the country. Ola, Uber and other cab aggregators meet with government over unfair trade practices

Ryan Sederquist

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