The Indian government accuses Uber of increasing prices • The Register

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India has accused ride-sharing companies of overcharging loyal customers who regularly take the same route and ordered six platforms to become part of a scheme that offers third-party complaints-handling services.

The order to join the program was issued during a meeting with officials from India’s Department of Consumer Affairs, which was attended by Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo. Platforms have been advised to be more responsive to customer concerns and rights, and directed to become a “convergence partner” on India’s national consumer helpline. These partners are required to accept and resolve consumer complaints reported to the Helpline.

The ministry said ride-sharing companies have to sign up for the helpline, in part because their algorithms set fares in a way that’s not easily understood – sometimes even charging loyal customers higher fares than first-time visitors on the same route.

The ministry is also concerned that ride-sharing platforms fail to provide adequate responses from customer support, pre-select costly add-ons that appear on customer bills without consent, and have failed to act to prevent drivers from refusing online payments and insisting on cash .

Drivers have also been accused of refusing to run air conditioning even when promised as a premium service. Other drivers force passengers to cancel rides the drivers don’t want to take, meaning disabled customers have to pay cancellation fees.

As for cancellation fees, the companies have been accused of opaque practices regarding the deadline users have to meet to cancel a trip free of charge and the amounts requested.

And if someone wants to raise related complaints, the apps have a reputation for slow resolutions with zero-touch service, making it all but impossible to actually connect with customer service staff. The department also complained that written responses to complainants were often sent in ready-made formats.

Some users have turned to good old Twitter for answers.

This isn’t the first time India’s taxi suppliers have been accused of naughtiness.

2018 self-employed lawyer allegedly that the ride-hailing platforms Ola and Uber used their algorithms to facilitate price fixing between drivers. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) eventually dismissed an appeal investigating the platforms.

In January, the Delhi government problematic a policy draft of guidelines for taxi platforms that included operating license requirements, state registration of drivers, customer care centers and transparency on fees. Policies could limit rate increases to twice the base rate set by the government. ®

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