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NEW DELHI : The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued notices to ride-hailing companies Ola and Uber for alleged unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights.

More than 2,400 consumer complaints were registered against Ola and 770 against Uber in the national consumer helpline in the 12 months till 1 May, the consumer affairs ministry said on Friday. Most complaints were linked to driver behaviour.

The primary issues alleged in the notices included deficiency in service, inadequate consumer grievance redressal mechanism, unreasonable levy of cancellation charge and inclusion of charges for add-on services by way of pre-ticked boxes without explicit consent before each ride, the ministry said.

At a meeting last week, the department of consumer affairs urged the companies to become “convergence partner" in the national consumer helpline to enable better grievance redressal for users and for compliance with the consumer protection law and e-commerce rules, the ministry said.

Emails sent to Ola and Uber on Friday evening remained unanswered till press time.

Alleged unreasonable levy of cancellation charges was one of the issues raised by consumers wherein users were not shown the amount of time within which cancelling a ride is permitted, the ministry said.

The amount of cancellation charge is not allegedly displayed prominently on the platform before booking the ride. “Undue cancellation charges are borne by users 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 statement said.

Deficiency in service accounted for more than half of the complaints in the case of both companies, the government said. This included lack of proper response from customer support, driver insisting on cash payment, higher amount charged despite going on the same route previously at a lower charge, unprofessional driver behaviour and driver refusing to switch on air conditioner when the consumer is promised air conditioned ride on the application.

Complaints were also received about absence of customer care numbers and details of grievance officers on the platforms, as well as lack of any information on method used to charge different fares for the same route, according to the ministry.

The regulator is constantly monitoring the consumer protection landscape in the country, the ministry said. Recently, CCPA issued an advisory against illegal sale and facilitation of wireless jammers on online platforms, it said.

Meanwhile, the watchdog also issued an advisory to all marketplace e-commerce entities to ensure that details of sellers as mandated, including name and contact number of the grievance officer, are provided in a clear and accessible manner to users on the platform.

The regulator has been cautioning consumers against buying goods that do not hold a valid ISI mark and violate compulsory BIS standards. It has already issued safety notices, cautioning consumers about unsafe helmets, pressure cookers, and cooking gas cylinders, electric immersion water heaters, sewing machines, microwave ovens, and domestic LPG gas stoves.

Set up in 2020, CCPA regulates issues related to consumer rights, including unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements in addition to promoting consumer rights protection. It can order probes into violations of consumer rights and order recall of unsafe goods.

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