It seems like Ola just can't stop making news. From getting into trouble with authorities to waging Twitter wars with competition to even legal tussles, the transport aggregator has been on everyone's mind recently. Its main competitor Uber had earlier slapped a legal petition on the company, alleging it had created fake rider accounts and booked rides on Uber's platform using phone numbers that don’t exist. Now, Chandigarh based auto-rickshaw hailing app Jugnoo has made the same charges against Ola.
Uber had said in a petition filed in Delhi High Court that drivers wait for 10-15 minutes before cancelling the trip resulting in Uber having to bear the cancellation charges and, as a consequence, the company having to deal with an affected driver pool.
However, Softbank-funded Ola strongly denied the allegations and made counter claims against Uber by issuing a strong press statement. “Such fights are obvious thing for startups and we are going to see it more in coming time with proliferation of startup culture,” said Abhay Shankar, Lead-Partner (India) - Dispute Resolution at Kaden Boriss.
Experts, however, believe that this won't be a standalone case. Abhay Shankar, Lead-Partner (India) - Dispute Resolution at Kaden Boriss, a legal advisory firm, says, “Such fights are obvious thing for startups and we are going to see it more in coming time with proliferation of startup culture.”
So while the focus had been on the Ola-Uber tussle, Jugnoo yesterday put up a post on its website alleging that Ola adopted unethical and underhanded practices against it. Ola was unavailable to comment on the same.
Its blog titled 'Ooh la la!' said:
“Gandhiji asked us to be the change we wish to see in the world. Looks like some people took that quote in a twisted way. What amazes us is the manner in which that C-word is misused.
…..so on and so forth!
What doesn’t change—in our experience so far—is the fear felt by our competitor. A competitor who is actually bigger than us. A competitor who we are supposed to look up to for inspiration. A competitor who doesn’t need to be alarmed by our rise. A competitor with whom we are hoping to improve auto driver behavior in India. A competitor who can do much better than resorting to lame tactics. A competitor who doesn’t have to be a bully.
Are we expecting too much here? Hmmmmm. Thought so. We don’t want to be a crybaby but we are left with no choice. If only we lived in an ideal world!
The remarkable organization in question here happens to be Ola (no surprises there?). After all, this isn’t their debut in diving to tactical lows. Those who are wondering what they did this time around though, grab some popcorn and just google denial-of-service (DoS).
Before we dig into details, we’d like to thank them for two reasons:
- For increasing our ride requests. Isn’t that the metric you use to justify your market valuation?
- For making us remember that what matters at the end of the day is the convenience of our users, not petty mind (more on that later) games.
Believe it or not, Ola has hired people whose daily work includes booking a ride on Jugnoo. That’s good news for us, right? Wrong. What they do is they cancel the ride after the Jugnoo auto driver has accepted their requests. This gimmick bodes well for neither the auto driver nor for us. The driver had already left for Point B from Point A, which means his time is being deliberately wasted when the ride is canceled. And for us, that means monetary loss because we pay a stipulated charge to the auto drivers if the ride is cancelled after a certain period of time. But the party that suffers the most—and is our biggest concern here—are the genuine Jugnoo users. They could have availed the services of those auto driver who are unnecessarily made to move from one point to another.
Sounds childish, huh? It is. The worst part about this whole fiasco is it was ridiculously easy to track the pattern of the users who were cancelling consistently. A few clicks on phone database and LinkedIn was enough to lead us to who was doing what here.
Below is a screenshot of those who cancelled and it’s interesting how mindschange for some individuals again and again and again. (link to the image)
If we could hire big shot lawyers, we certainly would have. But then, that would be an utter wastage of time and resources when we can invest the same on making our product better. Last checked it was 2016 and there were rules in place. We wonder how difficult it is to focus on enhancing one’s customers’ experience than disrupt others’.
Some things never change, now do they?”