App-Based Cab Aggregators Should be Transparent Whilst Dealing with the Customers!

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  • The commuters, especially those customers calling urban centers their homes, would be always made to feel short-shifted largely owing to the inefficient public transport system. Many metro cities are grappling with this pathetic scenario for years on as the government in power grapples to provide palpable succour to the hapless citizens. Of course, the less said the better about the tier 2 and 3 cities where the public transport system is abysmal and far from satisfactory. As the technology-driven initiatives make their presence felt universally in several critical sectors riding on the dynamically evolving applications and solutions, the transportation vertical also saw some of the most interesting and citizen-friendly moves.

PC: Manoj Gujarathi

  • And India as a nation is no exception here. Millions of commuters would be quite aware of how the app-based cab aggregators mushroomed over the years suitably supplementing the moribund public transport system. Initially, the commuters were more than happy to welcome the novel initiative providing them with an option to choose at their convenience. However, as the years went by, several complaints are emerging from the commuters about the way some of the prominent cab aggregators are going about their business models. To address the same, the Government of India is scheduled to convene a meeting of cab aggregators next week following growing consumer complaints about arbitrariness in fixing fares, the most noticeable contentious issue bogging them.
  • There are several factors contributing to the simmering discontent over the last few months, including the fuel hike. You may be aware that cab drivers in the National Capital Region (NCR) attached to cab aggregators struck work last month in the wake of repeated increases in fuel prices. Given the unsettled state of the app-based cab ecosystem, it is in the best interests of all stakeholders to sort out the problems through a meeting. Note that app-based companies such as Uber and Ola are an important part of the urban transport system. An order issued last year by the competition regulator, CCI, examined their functioning.

PC: Study Sector

  • They are primarily digital platforms that connect a potential customer to drivers. In that sense, they are aggregators. Interestingly, CCI observed that their mode of functioning makes them dissimilar to e-commerce platforms. Unlike e-commerce marketplaces, cab platforms completely control the process of connecting customers to drivers. Further, the payment is a single transaction also controlled by the platform. Thus, customers regard drivers as an extension of the platform and hold it responsible for shortcomings in the engagement. Yes, the drivers are not employees of app-based aggregators.
  • Mind you, this arrangement has played a useful role in the transport ecosystem and is under stress now. Moreover, these digital platforms need to be transparent about the way their algorithms work. Needless to mention, transparency will help avoid unwise regulatory measures which may in the long run hurt all the stakeholders in this system. Ultimately, keeping this important aspect in mind, these platforms need to approach the meeting convened by the Government of India in the right spirit. Make no mistake, transparency always works in favor of all stakeholders, including the all-important customers.