A rant on Uber and Ola

Uber and ola have been in India for a long time now. Why do I want to rant about them now ? Read on. I promise it is interesting.

What happened with Uber ?

Uber keeps on sending me promo codes, but whenever I try to use them, i am told that the code is not valid for me. I used to ignore it in the past. But last week, when I was planning my ride, i thought of asking uber – why do they send me promo codes which are useless to me. Maybe they have a bug and I since I point it out to them, I may get some goodies from them. On asking about the same, I was told that promos have been deactivated on my account due to suspicious activities. Now, if i had done some “suspicious activities”, i would have been ok with this response. But, being flagged without doing anything is not something I would look forward to.

After multiple to and fro, I realized, that it is some customer support typing the same message with different word combinations – as he is not capable of doing anything else. Here is a the complete dialogue – with jumbled words conveying the same meaning repeatedly.

Hi XXXX,

We understand the disappointment this may have caused. Unfortunately, since the promotions on your account have been disabled by the system, we would not be able to honor any promotions on your account going forward.

Though you may receive notifications regarding the on-going promotions, please know that will not be able to apply them on your account.

Rest assured, you will still be able to request for rides from your account as usual.

Hope this clarifies.

Sent by SB on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 2:34:36 PM
Continue this conversation by replying to this email or going to help in your Uber app.
PREVIOUS MESSAGES
My earlier query still remains unanswered
Sent by XXXX K. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 2:30:58 PM
Hi XXXX,

Happy to explain. Uber reserves the right to adjudge and verify the eligibility criteria of any rider receiving a promotion discount.

Unfortunately, since your account has been flagged for violation of Uber’s Terms of Service we will not be able to honor any promotions on your account.

Though you might have received a notification regarding the on-going promotion, it would only apply on the account when the usage is within these Terms and Conditions.

Appreciate your understanding!
Sent by madapana a. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 2:27:44 PM
My query still remains unresolved
Sent by XXXX K. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 2:16:53 PM
Hi XXXX

I am afraid I do not have further info as this is a system generated flag with no manual intervention in the process.

Our system is the same across the 300+ cities that we operate in. It flags suspicious accounts and disables the application of promotions on these accounts and in some cases even cuts off access to these accounts.

You will appreciate that these security features need to be built in to prevent misuse of our services and to prevent users from creating accounts for the sole purpose of taking free rides. You might not have had that intention, however, the system cannot differentiate between the two situations and frankly, there really is no way for anyone else to distinguish the two either.

I am afraid I really cannot be of any more help with this than I already have.
Sent by PS on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 2:15:19 PM
So, what can I do so that your highly advanced system can allow me to use promos that your another advanced system is sending across? I have been using uber regularly. But this irritating attitude will force me to use other better services which will not have such advanced systems creating chaos with the end user.
Sent by XXXX K. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 2:13:53 PM
Hi XXXX,

Thanks for letting us know. Happy to help.

I am afraid I do not have further information, as this is a system generated flag with no manual intervention in the process.

Our system is the same across the 300+ cities that we operate in. It flags suspicious accounts and disables the application of promotions on these accounts and in some cases even cuts off access to these accounts.

You will appreciate that these security features need to be built to prevent misuse of our services and to prevent users from creating accounts for the sole purpose of taking free rides. You might not have had that intention, however, the system cannot differentiate between the two situations and frankly, there really is no way for anyone else to distinguish the two either.

I am afraid I really cannot be any more help with this than I already have.
Sent by Bhavana S. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 11:45:40 AM
Can you elaborate on this? If the system has disabled promotions, why do I still get offers? Why has the system disabled promotions on my account?
Sent by XXXX K. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 11:44:00 AM
Hi XXXX,

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. I checked your account and it appears that the use of promotions on your account does not comply with Uber’s terms and condition. Consequently, the system has disabled promotions on your account.

However, please note that only the use of promotions has been disabled and your account continues to remain in good standing. This means you will be able to request rides as usual.

Appreciate your understanding in this regard.
Sent by Ajaj K. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 11:21:30 AM
Share Details : I am unable to use this promo code sent to me. Dear Rider, use code: OCCASIONS if you haven’t already & get Rs. 50 off 10 rides on uberGO. Valid only for you, in NCR till Sun, 13 Aug. I get an error that the promo code is invalid.

What happened with ola ?

The above incident got me thinking. Maybe i should give ola a fair chance. So, after being with uber for a long time, I installed ola. And since, i wanted to use the cashless riding promo, I loaded some cash in my ola money. I still don’t understand why Ola uses ola money. Why cant they simply integrate with already available wallets like Paytm or Mobikwik or something else.

Upon getting down at the airport, I booked an ola share. Surprisingly, at airport surcharge is always applicable, so you would get uber/ola at 2-3 times the original fare. And I was waiting at the specified pillar hoping that the car will arrive. After 5 minutes, when, i saw that the car is still not moving, I called up the driver and he told me that he is waiting in departures dropoff while I am downstairs at the arrival pickup. And since it may take him a lot of time and money (re-issue of entry ticket) I should come up to him.

So, I climbed up a very long flight for stairs and reached the departure. And sat inside the car. He requested OTP from me and I gave it to him. And he started the ride. Since my majority of my payment was via olamoney, only a very small amount (Rs 70) was coming as cash payment. Here is how the dialogue went.

Driver : You will pay me only 70 for a ride to indirapuram (my destination)
Me : Yes, rest of the payment is cashless via ola money
Driver : I cannot go to indirapuram in only 70 rs
Me : But, I am not paying you. I am paying ola and they have already deducted 700 from my ola money.
Driver : Please get down, I will not go in 70 rs.
Me : Ok.

I got down and called up ola customer care and narrated the incident.

Me : (Narrating the incident)
Customer care : Sir, we are really sorry for the incident. We will talk to the driver partner.
Me : But, why my ola money was deducted at the beginning of the ride ?
Customer care : Sir, I am sending a link via sms. Please click on the link and the money will be credited back instantly.
Me : Ok

I waited for the SMS for 5 minutes and called again. Again repeating the above conversation.

Me : But the last person i spoke to told me that the sms has been sent. I have not received it. Can you resend it ?
Customer care : Sir, i have just resent the SMS. You will receive it shortly.
Me : Ok

Now, I started cursing myself for using cashless mode. And thought of trying airport metro. Always try to avoid metro as it is very crowded. And carrying a backpack into a crowded metro is not very easy. Did not get any SMS, so called again after 10 minutes.

Me : SMS has been sent to me twice, but i have not received it.
Customer care : Sir, i can see that there is a problem with your account which is why the SMS has not gone from our system.
Me (thinking) : Today is a bad day. Even my newly created account is getting flagged. Maybe there is some problem with my name.
Customer care : sir, you will have to wait for 48 hours for the amount to be credited back to your ola money.
Me : Ok. What should I do for 48 hours ? Should I use uber ?
customer care : Sir, you can again load money into your ola money account
Me (thinking) : Do I look like a fool ? What if you do not refund my money even after 48 hours ?
Me : But I do not have any more money to give to ola.
Customer care : Sir, as per the terms and conditions, your money will be credited back in 48 hours ?
Me : Ok

After being stranded for 30 minutes, I am left without any cab or any money. And i am being shown the terms and conditions – which no-one ever reads. To hell with ola. I get out of the airport metro, book an uber and go home. Wrote a strong mail to ola to refund me the money from olamoney to my original account.

But, uber is not perfect

I have had many rides with Uber, and there are 2 instances where I faced major issues. One of which was handled well by Uber.

In the first incident, I was to travel to Gurgaon from Noida. It was raining and the uber driver simply refused to go to such a distant place. Also, he refused to cancel the ride and asked me to do the same. When I cancelled the ride, I was shown a cancellation charge. On talking with Uber, the same was refunded.

Second incident happened when I was in Indonesia. Indonesia has another uber competitor – grab – which surprisingly is a lot better than uber. Prices are extremely low and grab taxis are very easily available. Since, I have been using Uber in India, I thought of using the same in Indonesia. Some driver accepted the ride and called me up. Due to language issues, we were not able to talk and asked the hotel valet to convey our location to the person. After waiting for 10 minutes, the driver cancelled the ride. And i was charged the cancellation fare. Which I came to know a long time later. Though Uber waived off the fare later.

Another issue with Uber is the outstanding fare. Uber would prompt you to pay your previous due when you are at the final stage of booking. This is very inconvenient. An alert about outstanding fares and an easier way to pay it is something I would look forward to.

Verdict

  • Use uber for cashless integration with paytm. If you are unable to use your promo code, Uber thinks you can misuse their system and has flagged you for suspicious activity.
  • Use ola but only via cash. Do not try cashless with ola.
  • Haggle with auto and taxi drivers, if you do not find uber or ola nearby.