Do Ola and Uber charge repeat customers more than first-timers?

On Monday, learning of customer complaints against Ola and Uber, consumer protection regulator CCPA called a meeting with taxi aggregators – Ola, Uber, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo, asking them to clearly state the fares charged by them. for the first- regular and one-time customers as well as the algorithm used to calculate the tariffs.

Rohit Singh, the Union’s consumer affairs secretary, in a letter to taxi aggregators, alleged that the fares they charge are higher for customers who regularly travel by taxi than for new users. Meanwhile, Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare said the regulator wanted to understand the algorithms used to charge customers as well as other policies adopted by taxi aggregators to operations in the country. The meeting is scheduled to take place on May 10.

It is not the first time that taxi aggregators, particularly Ola and Uber, the two largest taxi aggregators in the country, have come under the government’s radar for not following the rules.

Complaints against taxi aggregators

In the past, several disgruntled customers have taken to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, mainly against Ola and Uber, the two largest taxi aggregators in the country. Most of these complaints follow a sordid pattern of concerns about customer safety, frequent cancellations of rides by drivers, misconduct by drivers, especially towards female customers, higher fares, the insensitive redress mechanism via applications and refusal to provide integrated air conditioning service in the midst of the scorching summer heat.

In April, Clootrack and Inc42 media analyzed 21,573 reviews on Google Play Store and Apple Store for apps from Ola and Uber. Of these, 97% of customers rated trip cancellation as a top issue, while a poor repair mechanism or poor mobile app experience is the second most important customer concern.

In another survey conducted by Local Circles, which analyzed 65,000 customers, 71% indicated that frequent cancellations by taxi drivers were a persistent problem, while 45% of participants pointed to soaring fares as a big problem. inconvenience to them when taking taxi services. . Customer woes become especially evident in cities where other transport infrastructure such as integrated metro is not well equipped and customers rely solely on taxi services to get around.

Higher fare price despite soaring fuel prices

Several drivers said earlier Business prospects that soaring fuel prices are a major reason for their refusal to turn on built-in air conditioners, as they cannot afford such a service. Others pointed to the broken business model between taxi drivers and aggregators as a reason for their refusal to provide such services or comply with guidelines set by the government. Taxi drivers have also said that the two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic – which have brought taxi business to a standstill – have weighed on aggregators and drivers, and so they are demanding higher fares.

Shaikh Salauddin, Founder and State Chairman of Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union (TGPWU) had said in a press release, “Currently the fare is less than Rs 12 to Rs 13 per km and drivers want at least Rs 24 to Rs 25 per km to turn on the AC. We also understand the problems the customer faces in this hot weather when the air conditioners are turned off. The government and the collector need to sit down together and solve this problem.

However, taxi aggregator Uber said Business prospects“Uber does not charge an additional fee for turning on the air conditioning during a ride, and any driver who charges such a fee will be subject to action by the company for violating our Community Guidelines. Uber expects drivers on its platform to keep the car’s air conditioning on during a ride. If the driver refuses, passengers have the option of contacting Uber via in-app chat messages. and post-ride feedback Continued non-compliance by drivers may result in them losing access to the Uber app.

Existing guidelines for cabin aggregators

According to the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, 2020, since the city taxi fare is indexed by the WPI, travel costs have been capped at 1.5 times the base fare, while the minimum chargeable price has been capped at 50% of base rate. . In states where taxi fares have not been determined, Rs 25/Rs 30 will be the base fare. Most states have not yet determined taxi fares. The base rate billable to any customer will be for a minimum of 3 km. This is done to offset the amount of mileage, distance traveled and fuel used when picking up the customer from the pickup location.

In addition, the aggregator’s share was capped at 20 percent, and the driver’s share was capped at 80 percent. In addition, in case of cancellation of the trip by the taxi driver or the passenger without valid reason, a penalty of 10% has been imposed for the total fare not exceeding Rs 100.