Ola Postpaid: Poor customer service

In early April, when an Ola trip from Khar Danda to Bandra West in Mumbai was not marked as “trip completed”, the total postpaid bill ended up being 14 km from the drop-off point, and Phalguni Desai was presented with a bill of Rs 350. — five times the usual amount of Rs.65 would be required. After several unsuccessful attempts to file a complaint ticket on the Ola platform and try to contact a representative, she refused to pay the unfairly charged amount included in her postpaid bill. At this time, the most pressing issues began.

“Many people told me to be careful when using [OlaMoney Postpaid] …I never had any problems, so I continued to use it,” said Desai, an Ola postpaid user since 2019. Entrackr. “I’m not sure anymore if it was a smart thing to do.”

After a few automated calls from business numbers registered with Olas, messages from various personal numbers started arriving. These messages initially started with a request to pay the overpayment, then gradually escalated to threats to visit her residence with a legal notice to receive payment.

One such message read: “Our CEO is on the way and he will be in anytime today before 14:00 will contact your residential address with LEGAL notices to avoid this return. This will affect your CIBIL score (sic).

Sausage is not alone. Asta Gupta from Bangalore and Kanika Mehrotra from Hyderabad faced similar situations. Gupta received more than 30 automated calls about charges she had already paid, while Mehrotra has received several calls and messages from personal numbers over a year about a wrong charge on one of her trips.

Recently, Ola’s support Twitter page was flooded with user complaints. Most of them are related to the harassment they face through calls and messages from Ola collection agents. Common factor: All are OlaMoney postpaid users.

Bengaluru cab aggregator Ola launched its OlaMoney postpaid services in 2019. Basically, it’s a “use now – pay later” method, where one invoice is generated every 15 days, summing up all the trips made during that time. It was rolled out to everyday Ola users, providing a “fast and hassle-free” mode of payment.

Although OlaMoney Postpaid was started with an altruistic vision, its current state of operation does not live up to its promise. Instead of traveling hassle-free, users have to deal with calls and messages from Ola collection agents threatening to visit their homes.

Several users with such complaints have taken to social media platforms, mainly Twitter and LinkedIn, to air their grievances. While many have not received a resolution to their complaints from Ola, some have stopped receiving such calls and messages as soon as their complaint was posted on a public platform.

Most messages are accompanied by a tiny automated message from Ola’s customer support account: “Hi, we’d like to help you with this. Please share your registered contact details via DM so we can assist you.

Entrackr spoke to more than half a dozen Ola users, all of whom reported similar complaints. Ola did not respond to sent questions Entrackr. The story will be updated with their comments in case the company responds.

One of the messages received by Mehrotra mentioned that action under IPC 138 and IPC 420 will be taken against the user. Many were threatened that their CIBIL scores would be affected.

(Attached is a screenshot of the message Kanika Mehrotra received.)

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Section 138 of the IPC deals with acts of insubordination by an officer, soldier, sailor or airman of the Government of India, Army, Navy or Air Force, while IPC 420 deals with cheating and dishonestly inducing the transfer of property.

Both these sections of the Indian Penal Code cannot be invoked in this particular situation. Additionally, using legal language that is not relevant to the case can be seen as coercive action on the part of the company to extract something from the user. It also shows that the person contacting the user on behalf of Ola does not have a clear idea of ​​the legal actions a private company can take and is just throwing around legal terms to force the user to cooperate with the company.

“Article 138 [of IPC] not applicable [this] in the case,” said Pioneer Legal Principal Associate Sohil Shah Entrackr. “[As far as] With regard to Article 420 of the CPC, the same may only apply if an element of fraud is involved, however, in this case, it is unlikely that there could be fraud. This is a case where Ola user/driver is unable to pay Ola installments. “

While people familiar with legal terms might have argued that the message might refer to Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and not IPC 138, the messages did not mention that specifics, especially since they are being sent to ordinary users. Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act talks about dishonor of a check due to insufficient funds in the account.

Mumtaz Bhalla, partner in the Economics Law practice, said Entrackr, “Section 138 NI can only be used when a check is used. It cannot be used if the user has not used the check to pay the required amount.

Both Bhalla and Shah also confirmed that a private company like Ola cannot directly affect the CIBIL score of its users. Bhalla said, “Ola cannot directly affect the user’s CIBIL score here. Only the bank/nbfc/financial institution partnering with Ola for post-paid services has this right.

This is not the first time a company has used coercive methods to boost business. In the past, several complaints have been registered against companies such as Byju’s for reporting abusive behavior to lure parents into buying their courses. Complaints have also been registered against banks and non-bank financial companies for harassment by collection agents.

These are not the only examples of the problem of aggressive collection agents faced by users. Although not all of them came from the same circumstances as Desai, some faced harassment from agents even though their dues and bills were cleared.

“All my postpaid bills are paid and nothing is pending…yet I get harassing calls about $400 that I can’t see anywhere on my app,” said Shrudy Johnson. Entrackr. She started experiencing the problem while using the app in May and only started receiving calls a few days later. She gets almost 30 calls every day.

While most of these calls were automated, some involved people calling on behalf of the company. “These people were very rude and asked me why my Ola bills hadn’t been paid. When I said I couldn’t see it on my app, they hung up,” Johnson said. One such automated call indicated that the company had registered a case against them on Lok Adalat in which she had to be present.

In fact, Johnson is due a refund of Rs 1,129.39 from Ola. After returning the item, which was purchased online through OlaMoney, she is yet to receive the amount, which is currently pending for more than eight months.

(Attached are screenshots of the messages received by Shrudi Johnson and of the pending refund in the Ola app.)

Shah explained that it may not be illegal for private companies to engage third-party agents for debt recovery. However, what could be illegal is the manner in which the recovery is carried out.

“The RBB has published guidelines governing debt collection agents… which require debt collection agents not to use intimidation or harassment, verbal or physical, including actions aimed at publicly humiliating or intruding on the private lives of family members of debtors by sending inappropriate messages, … making threats and/or anonymous calls, persistently calling the borrower and/or calling the borrower before 8:00 am and after 7:00 pm, making false and misleading statements, etc. he said.

In a bit of a twist, Rahul Dehedkar, an NRI traveling to India, updated his Ola Money wallet for a stress-free stay in the city. “I recharged for Rs 2500 and used the app for 3 days… total cost was around Rs 1200 so I didn’t worry as I had recharged more.”

Last month, Dehedkar started getting 15 to 20 calls every day about his outstanding dues. He claims that he has not opted for Ola’s postpaid services and is still being charged for them. Despite paying the unfairly charged amount through Ola wallet, the calls have not stopped, he added. “Ola’s support confirmed this for me [the calls] would stop. I still get 8-10 calls every day,” said Dehedkar.

Bhalla said the most effective action a user can take in this case would be to file a criminal intimidation and extortion complaint with the police against Ola and the individual collection agents who contact them if the claim is not legitimate.

According to Desai’s posts on Twitter, an Ola representative contacted her and said that the surcharge would be waived and she would receive an email regarding the same. While the harassing calls from collection agents have stopped, she says she has yet to receive any such emails. Speaking about cab rides, after the unpleasant experience with Ola Desai said that she has switched to other alternatives for hailing a cab.

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