Online cab aggregators Ola and Uber have started charging their drivers Rs 300 a week to try and prevent them from using other aggregating platforms, reports Livemint. This charge, which applies regardless of usage, is being attributed to phone, mobile Internet connections and other services provided by the aggregators.
According to the report, Ola sent out a message to drivers informing them that it would charge Rs 300 per week for the next 6 months, and Rs 75 per week post 6 months as the Platform Management Fee. Uber charges are similar, although the company provides the drivers an option to use their own phones to avoid having to pay the Rs 300 fee. Ola on the other hand, does not provide this benefit.
Both companies seem to be banking on the fact that cab drivers will find it too expensive to pay Rs 600 per week for being a part of both platforms. Interestingly, the same month the charges were introduced, Uber’s driver base in Hyderabad accused the company of being dishonorable with regards to its incentive promises.
Allegedly, the per ride incentive had been reduced from Rs 225 to Rs 150 in Hyderabad. A Uber driver also said that Uber had been charging Rs 300 as device charges per week, which were deducted from the driver’s account, whether or not they logged in to the service. This was other than the 20% commission the company charged per ride.
Uber’s Mumbai and Pune cars reportedly damaged
Last month, Uber had a run in with local groups in Mumbai, who, after allegedly damaging Uber’s cars were demanding that public service vehicle badges only be given to Maharashtra domiciles and people who could read and write in Marathi. At that time, Uber said that thousands of drivers were being forced to stay off the roads, adding that the proposed fare restriction would lead to artificially created fares, decreased availability of its cars, decreased jobs and earnings for drivers and reduced transport options in Mumbai suburbs and neighborhoods where taxis did not ply.
In a follow up to this incident, yesterday, a strike was called to demand for the ban on operators such as Ola and Uber, as it was negatively affecting the business of traditional black-yellow taxis. In response, Uber disabled its surge pricing for the day in the affected areas. Ola on the other hand has been trying to strike truce with traditional taxis, with initiatives like introducing yellow taxis (in Kolkata) on its platform.
Uber funding: In August, Uber received an injection of funds from Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF) to expand its services and solutions in India, by making use of TOF’s network within the Tata Group and outside of it. Uber currently claims to have a 40% month on month growth rate and a supposed 35% market share. The same month, Uber told MediaNama that it had around 150,000 registered cars in its fleet after rival Ola claimed to own 80% of the online cab market share by registered vehicles.
Ola goes app only: In July, Ola stated that it was going app only from last month across its 100 cities of operation. Ola used to let users book cabs by calling 3355-3355 before this move, which will now be used for call centre operations (customer support). The company also updated the app to better support content loading on 2G networks, it said in a statement. The app would reportedly allow users to save on their data usage and work even in areas of poor connectivity.