The rivalry between Ola and US cab hailing giant Uber has gone beyond being just a business competition. It just turned ugly when Uber dragged Ola into the court alleging that the Indian taxi aggregator made false bookings on its platform and misled its drivers.
In a petition filed in the court, Uber accused Ola of creating “93,859 false rider accounts”, misleading Uber drivers by giving false information of emails and untraceable numbers and personating Uber, thereby causing confusion and loss to the business operations of the company.
It further alleged that certain Ola officials had sent malicious messages by the name of Uber causing significant damage to the image as well as the business of the company.
Source close to the matter have given intricate details about this malicious activity to The Tech Portal. The sources within Uber say, that Ola had set up fake rider accounts and booked rides using phone numbers to which calls cannot be made. Consequently, drivers wait for 10-15 minutes before cancelling the trip resulting in cancellation charges to be borne by Uber and driver churn.
Ola has also been accused of making fake calls to Uber driver partners impersonating Uber and asked driver partners to shut their phones off. The company had in fact sent SMS’s to Uber driver partners with misleading information.
Over 20000 Uber drivers are claimed to have left Uber due to these reasons causing a loss of ₹50 crores to the company. Uber has sought “declaration, perpetual injunction and damages” against Ola in the petition. Justice Vipin Sanghi has asked Ola to file its response to the filing before the next hearing which is scheduled for September 14.
Naturally, Ola has denied the allegations and instead hit back at Uber saying that it was trying to divert the attention from current happenings to the company due to the seizure of its vehicles by the Government.
Apart from that, Ola itself had filed a contempt petition in Delhi High Court, accusing Uber of buying new diesel cabs which violated the court’s order against use of diesel cars as cabs.
We can only speculate that this is a counter to the contempt proceedings pending against Uber in this Hon’ble High Court. We stand by our contempt petition that Uber has added and plying new diesel vehicles within Delhi in willful and deliberate defiance of the local rules and regulations,
said a statement by Ola to ET.
In a judgment post Uber’s petition filing, Justice Vipin Sanghi directed Ola to abide by its statement and listed the matter for further hearing on September 14. He further commented,
Defendants (Ola and its subsidiary Serendipity Cabs) emphatically deny the allegations. Counsel for defendants states they have not done anything to interfere with plaintiff’s (Uber) business as alleged, or its system by making false accounts, bookings or cancellations… nor has any intention of doing so.
Defendants, their agents and employees shall abide by this statement…,”the court said, and issued notice to Ola and Serendipity asking them to file their written statement, reply and submit documents within four weeks.
Cab aggregation segment has been one of the most highly competitive spaces in India, probably next to only e-commerce. And while it had largely been confined to business, this would be a first-of-its-kind legal battle which Uber and Ola have indulged in. The former, partly due to its late entry into the Indian market and partly due to the various government regulations and issues has failed to replicate its success in India.
It has faced tremendous competition from Ola Cabs which has rapidly expanded to over 200 cities, its growth further fuelled by its $200 million acquisition of its rival TaxiForSure. However, Uber has been slowly catching up with its many special exceptions to the Indian market and claims to overtake Ola soon as the market leader in the Indian market.
We’ve contacted Uber for a statement on this, and will update this post once we get an update.
Uber has given the following statement,
The matter is subjudice.