CCPA issues notices to Ola and Uber on violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices

Following a barrage of user complaints against ride hailing platforms Ola and Uber, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued notices to the two for unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights. The major issues raised by CCPA include lack of proper consumer grievance redressal mechanism, deficiency in service, unreasonable levy of cancellation charges and fairness of algorithm used to charge fares among others.

Data available with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), 2,482 consumer grievances were registered against Ola and 770 grievances were registered against Uber from 1 April 2021 to 1 May 2022.
In a meeting with ride-hailing companies Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo, last week, the authority directed them to become convergence partner in the National Consumer Helpline, to enable better grievance redressal for consumers and also compliance with Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and e-commerce Rules.
Deficiency in service which includes lack of proper response from customer support, 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 and driver refusing to switch on AC when the consumer is promised AC ride on the app.
Inadequate consumer grievance redressal mechanism in absence of both customer care number and details of grievance officer as required to be mentioned on the platform.
Consumer complaints showed slapping of unreasonable levy of cancellation charge wherein users are not shown the amount of time within which cancelling a ride is permitted. The amount of cancellation charge is not displayed prominently on the platform before booking the ride. This results in burdening users with undue cancellation charges when they are forced to cancel the ride due to unwillingness of the driver to accept the ride or come at the pick-up location.
The companies d not provide any information on the algorithm or method used to charge different fares for the same route from two individuals.
Inclusion of charges for add-on services by pre-ticked boxes denies users the chance to take affirmative action for including add-on services without obtaining informed consent before each ride.
It may be mentioned that a significant number of complaints have been lodged by consumers across the country on multiple issues which affect their rides booked through both the ride hailing platforms.
CCPA also, recently, issued advisory against illegal sale and facilitation of wireless jammers on online platforms. It has also issued an advisory to all marketplace e-commerce entities to ensure that details of sellers as mandated under the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020, including name and contact number of the grievance officer, are provided in a clear and accessible manner, displayed prominently to users on the platform.
Furthermore, CCPA has also issued safety notices under the Act to alert and caution consumers against buying goods which do not hold valid ISI mark and violate compulsory BIS standards. The first safety notice was issued on 6 December 2021 with regard to helmets, pressure cookers and cooking gas cylinders and the second safety notice, issued on 16 December 2021 with regard to household goods, including electric immersion water heaters, sewing machines, microwave ovens, domestic gas stoves with LPG etc.