Even after the Delhi High Court’s recent order to put an end to “surge pricing”, the practice does not seem to have ended, with customers still complaining against cab aggregators like Uber and Ola for adopting an opaque system of pricing and overcharging riders.

The Delhi High Court’s order earlier last month said that all app-based taxi services would have to comply with the prescribed rates of the Delhi government from 22 August this year.

The Delhi government’s 2013 chart notified the fare for Economy Radio Taxi at Rs 12.50 per km, for non-airconditioned black and yellow taxi at Rs 14 per km and for AC black and yellow taxi at Rs 16 per km, but radio taxis, which have an LCD display as “Radio Taxi” on top, are prescribed to charge Rs 23 per km along with an additional night charge (25% of the fare) applicable between 11 pm and 5am.

Divya, a Delhi resident, had recently used an Uber ride from Connaught Place to Karol Bagh, a distance of not more than 6 km. She had to shell out as much as Rs 350 for it. She said, “I don’t know on what basis they calculate the fares. It is hardly a few kilometres from Connaught Place and since I had no other option but take a cab, I had to give in to their high charge. But this is unfair; we are not even being told for what reason we are being charged almost five times the regular fare.”

Currently, Uber has done away with its surge pricing “lightning bolts” in its application and only indicates customers of the “heavy pricing” at the time of confirmation of the ride. It also does not inform its customers of the reason for its “heavy pricing” and the percentage of increase in the fare, making the system more opaque.

Ola, however, has been still following its “upward pricing indicator” in its application and does mention the percentage of increase in the fare during peak pricing. Ola did not respond to this paper’s efforts to get their reaction.

There were also several complaints of overcharging on Wednesday when Delhi witnessed the highest rainfall of the season and roads across the National Capital were seen inundated. Some commuters paid as much as Rs 900 for just 11 km.

Prateek, a regular commuter who takes a cab from his house in Dwarka to his office in Gurgaon and pays about Rs 200 daily, ended up paying over Rs 500 on Wednesday for an Uber ride for which he claims that he was not given any intimation or any notification of “surge pricing”. He said, “Why are they not complying with the Delhi High Court’s order? It’s pure extortion, and moreover, they do not even have a dedicated customer care in India where we can at least lodge our grievances.”

Many commuters had also complained about Uber charging cancellation fees for every cancellation from its commuters even when the driver had cancelled the ride. The same kinds of complaints were also received from Ola commuters. One angry commuter took to Twitter to express his anguish and wrote, “@Uber_India you cancelled the trip, pay cancellation charge, you deduct cancellation charges from us.”

Surprisingly, Ola had been charging “peak pricing” even during the wee hours. However, the prices , when checked, fell within the prescribed limit of the Delhi government.

Earlier, Ola had also told the Delhi High Court that they had been complying with the Delhi government’s prescribed rates.

However, Neeti Nayak, Uber spokesperson, refuted the allegations. “As per the Delhi High Court order, Uber fares are under the Delhi government’s prescribed rates. Upfront fares are calculated using the expected time and distance of the trip and local traffic, as well as on the basis of how many riders and nearby drivers are using Uber at that moment. When fares go up due to increased demand, instead of ‘surge lightning bolts’ and pop-up screens, riders are given the actual fare before they request their ride. There’s no complicated math and no surprises for riders as they know the exact amount the trip is going to cost them before they take the ride,” she said.


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