The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on Friday issued notices to Ola and Uber, the two online ride-hailing platforms, for alleged unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights.

As per the data from the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), 2,482 grievances were registered by consumers against Ola and 770 grievances were registered against Uber from April 1, 2021 to May 1, 2022.

The action comes days after the Department of Consumer Affairs called out "unreasonable" levy of cancellation charges by cab aggregators, saying users are not shown the amount of time within which cancelling a ride is permitted.

Drivers, not willing to take the ride, force users to cancel the ride, which entails undue cancellation charges to be borne by the consumer, the government said at the time. Cancellation charges are variable and inconsistent, it added.

The consumer protection regulator 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.

In a meeting attended by major online ride-hailing platforms including Ola, Uber, Rapido, Meru Cabs and Jugnoo, the government earlier this month said that cancellation charges are not displayed prominently on the apps before booking the ride.

The grievances highlighted during the meeting included deficiency in service, the lack of proper response from customer support, pre-ticked boxes, including add-on services such as insurance with the ride charges, without obtaining consent by explicit and affirmative action, driver refusing to take payment by online mode and insisting for cash-only rides, higher amount charged despite going on the same route previously at a lesser charge, unprofessional driver behaviour, and driver refusing to switch on the air conditioner when the consumer is promised AC ride on the app.

No customer care number is provided on the platform, no details of grievance officers are mentioned on the platform to which consumers can address their grievances and only automated pre-written support messages are given to consumers without redressing the grievance, it said.

Users are not shown the algorithm or method used by the company to charge different fares for the same route from two individuals, the government said.

In an effort to resolve issues which affect consumers in this sector, the government has asked all cab aggregators to become convergence partners in the National Consumer Helpline, to enable better grievance redressal for consumers and also compliance with Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and E-commerce Rules, 2020.

The Centre advised cab aggregators to respond to the concerns of commuters with utmost priority and take remedial steps to ensure adequate protection of consumer rights.

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