Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Drivers canceling rides on Ola, Uber should be penalized: Consumers

  • The survey which was conducted across more than 22,000 app-based taxi service users showed that consumers want financial disincentives to be applied on platforms and drivers
  • The Madhya Pradesh government had recently announced a set of regulations for app-based taxi services

BENGALURU : Drivers canceling confirmed rides on app-based ride-hailing service such as Ola and Uber should be penalised on basis of the total ride fare, said a majority of the respondents surveyed by Local Circles, a social media and citizen engagement platform.

The survey which was conducted across more than 22,000 app-based taxi service users showed that consumers want financial disincentives to be applied on platforms and drivers, in line with penalty charges applied on consumers whenever they cancel a ride.

Around 45% of the users surveyed preferred a fixed amount of Rs. 100 as penalty charges for every cancellation, while 49% of the respondents preferred a penalty amount equivalent to 20% of the canceled ride fare. While only 3% of the users surveyed preferred no penalty charges for canceled rides.

The Madhya Pradesh government had recently announced a set of regulations for app-based taxi services operating in the state, which suggested implementing a penalty of 1,000 per canceled ride, after being allotted to consumers.

“According to my conversation with users, drivers usually cancel rides after getting in touch with customers to understand their destination, and in many cases this becomes tricky for consumers who may be availing rides at late nights. People are also extremely upset over drivers personally requesting the user to cancel rides from their end even after the ride is confirmed," said Sachin Taparia, founder and chairman of Local Circles in an interview.

Apart from driver cancellations, a majority (39%) of users surveyed by LocalCircles said that surge pricing was the next big issue faced by them while availing app-based cab services. Around 12% said that long waiting times was a big issue while 6% of them chose cancellation charges. While another 2% expressed safety concerns as a persistent problem.

When consumers were asked about surge pricing models, 45% said surge pricing should be capped at 25% above regular fares, while 49% said that surge pricing should be prohibited even if it leads to no taxis being available. Only 4% of the respondents said surge pricing should not have an upper limit.

A lot of consumers of app-based cab services also expressed concerns over surge prices applied to pre-scheduled rides. Around 83% of survey respondents felt that app taxis should not be allowed to apply surge pricing on pre-scheduled rides while only 14% of them preferred surge pricing for rides booked in advance.

Among the top reasons for users’ dependence on Uber, Ola, etc., 64% chose convenience as a key factor, 15% chose low fares, 12% said certainty, while 5% chose safety as an important factor. According to LocalCircles, this is a “clear shift" in consumer mind-set from 2014-15 when low fares were the top reason for customers to use app taxi services. This shift may indicate the growing maturity of app-based cab platforms where people are increasingly depending on Uber and Ola for convenience over lower prices, Local Circles added in a statement.

Additionally, the majority of the users surveyed by LocalCircles expressed difficulty in getting in touch with the customer service teams of app-based taxi services, indicating that platforms have been deliberately creating friction when it comes to availing customer care.

55% of the survey respondents said they could not find a way to speak with customer service while only 10% said they found a way to speak with them and they were helpful. 12% said they found a way to speak with them but they were not helpful. 23% said they haven’t had the need to speak to customer service yet.

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