The Central government on Tuesday directed cab aggregating companies--Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo -- to become convergence partner in the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) in order to enable better grievance redressal.
The directive comes after a meeting was held by Secretary DoCA, Rohit Kumar Singh amid a rise in consumer complaints of alleged unfair trade practices, including ride cancellation policy.
All online ride-hailing platforms were advised to respond to the concerns of commuters with utmost priority and take remedial steps to ensure adequate protection of consumer rights, the government's statement said.
Further, officials also highlighted major issues which impact consumers while availing themselves of the services.
The government pointed to the data received from NCH, noting that the deficiency in services occupied 56 per cent of the overall grievances during the period April 2021 to May 2022.
The government further emphasised on a lack of proper response from customer support, pre-ticked boxes including add-on services such as insurance with the ride charges were taken without obtaining consent by explicit and affirmative action.
In addition, driver refusing to take payment by online mode and insisting for cash only, higher amount charged despite going on the same route previously at a lesser charge, unprofessional driver behaviour, driver refusing to switch on AC when the consumer is promised AC ride on the app, and inaccessible customer support, were amongst few other issues that were taken into cognizance by the government during the meeting.
"If it is learnt that in case someone is using the OTA services consistently for going from point A to point B, the charges for him may be higher than somebody who is using it between the same two locations for the first time," the government noted.
Furthermore, the government said that the users are not shown the algorithm or method used by the company to charge different fares for the same route from two individuals.
"During the interactions, the companies claimed to have a robust mechanism of redressal of consumer grievances. They however assured that concerns raised in the meeting will be duly taken into consideration. As regards the cancellation charges, they stated that it is levied to compensate the drivers for efforts made towards fulfilling the order," the government statement said.
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