Heavy showers across the Capital on Wednesday flooded roads and triggered miles-long traffic snarls but commuters had a bigger worry: rapidly spiking cab fares and alleged discrepancy in bills.
Office-goers across the city reported that cab-hailing apps Uber and Ola charged them fares much higher than normal during the morning downpour. Many were forced to shell out the amount as autos were sparse on the roads and buses were packed due to waterlogging.
Sample this: HT’s health editor Sanchita Sharma boarded an UberGo cab from Vasant Enclave in south Delhi to Kasturba Gandhi Marg in central Delhi - an 11-km stretch for which she pays around Rs 140. On Wednesday, however, she paid Rs 922. She said she was not informed before riding that the surge would be six times.
“The predicted fare was Rs 214.52, and I expected it to be around Rs 300 as we took a slight detour within the NDMC area due to water-logging. But I was charged Rs 922. We could not have added more than four to five kilometres. The final bill showed I travelled 35.7 kilometres,” she said.
HT tried to contact Uber and Ola, but didn’t get any immediate response.
Many other commuters had similar stories to tell. Mahima Rana, booked an Ola from Dwarka sector-6 to Gurgaon Cyber City and was informed by the driver on the phone that the usual fare amount of Rs 190 will be surged. She finally paid Rs 396.
“There was no mention of surge pricing while I was booking the cab. The driver called me and told me that the bill will be more than the usual,” she said.
Another office-goer, Akshay Jangra, also said he paid Rs 403 to Uber on Wednesday against an usual fare of just Rs 95.
Such elevated prices may be against the law as the Delhi government banned surge-pricing – a practice where cab-hailing applications hike fares depending on demand. The restriction was put in place after many complained that Uber and Ola were fleecing commuters desparate for a cab during a shortage.
The ban was reinstated in August and cab aggregators were asked to comply with price caps notified by the government. But many commuters have since reported that while Uber and Ola have dropped the name “surge pricing”, the practice of charging users higher fares continues.
Aggregators say surge pricing helps provide incentives to drivers and facilitate more cabs.