The government has called a meeting of cab aggregators like Ola and Uber on Tuesday to discuss their policies related to fare calculation, surge pricing, ride cancellations and measures taken by them for data protection of customers, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said on Monday. The meeting has been called amid rise in consumer complaints of alleged unfair trade practices by these platforms, including ride cancellation policy as drivers force customers to cancel trips after accepting bookings, which results in customers paying cancellation penalties.
"We have sought information from cab aggregators how they handle cancellation charges and surge pricing and how they calculate fare," Singh said while speaking on the sidelines of an event organised by the ministry.
He further said,"We have asked why the charges to go from point A to point B are different for two different people." The ministry would also like to know whether these ride hailing apps have taken adequate measures to safeguard consumer data on their platforms.
"We have asked for information. We will discuss with them and based on the outcome we will take further action," 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 policy of cab aggregators. The number of complaints is very high and therefore we have called the cab aggregators for explanation of their policies." Citing a few examples, Khare said the regulator has received many complaints of alleged unfair trade practices, including cab drivers forcing consumers to cancel a trip and bear a penalty as the drivers do not want to accept the ride for whatever reason.
Khare further said existing consumers are being charged high rates for a ride, while new users are lured with lower charges for the same distance.
"It appears that cab aggregators are using algorithms to lure new customers, putting old customers at disadvantage. This is an unfair practice," she added.
Against this backdrop, Khare said the regulator would like to understand their algorithms and other policies adopted for operating as cab aggregators in the country.
Nitish Bhushan, Head of Central Operations, Uber India and South Asia, provided the following statement to Gadgets 360 in response to the development:
We are engaged with the Department of Consumer Affairs and deeply appreciate the feedback provided by them and will continue to provide our inputs. We strive to be the platform of choice for riders and drivers alike and continue to invest in technology and customer support to deliver an excellent experience for them. We are committed to continually raising the bar – for ourselves, our industry, and most importantly for the people who use our services.
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