US-based ride hailing firm accuses rival of making false bookings on its platform, drags it to Delhi High Court.
American taxi-hailing app Uber and its Indian counterpart Ola, often intensely competing with each other on discounts and service, are now caught in a legal battle over alleged fake bookings.
Uber moved the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, accusing Ola of making false bookings on its platform.
Demanding Rs 49.61 crore (Rs 496.1 million) in damages, Uber alleged that Ola set up fake rider accounts, misled its drivers via fake calls impersonating Uber and gave misleading information.
Bengaluru-based Ola, which has the highest share in the taxi-app space with Uber catching up fast, has denied the allegations.
In view of the submission made by Ola, judge Vipin Sanghi directed it to abide by its statement and listed the matter for further hearing on September 14.
“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.
It also issued notice to Ola and Serendipity asking them to file their written statement, reply and submit documents within four weeks.
According to sources, Uber in its petition alleged that Ola created as many as 93,859 false rider accounts on the US major's technological platform by stating fake names, e-mail IDs and untraceable phone numbers.
"The company alleges that Ola made 405,649 false bookings of taxi rides and thereafter cancelled them to create frustration and disrupt business. Also, according to Uber, Ola's employees impersonated Uber officials and circulated damaging text messages," said sources.
Uber has claimed that at least 20,000 drivers have left the company's platform owing to these reasons.
According to Uber, it has paid around Rs 5 lakh as cancellation charges and alleged that by making false bookings, Ola was squatting on the cabs associated with Uber.
Meanwhile, Ola told the court that Uber's plea is the direct result of a contempt petition it has filed against the latter accusing the US-based taxi aggregator of not complying with court directions to phase out diesel cabs.
WAR ON WHEELS
Gloves off between Uber, Ola
NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP
50% Uber’s claimed India market share
75% Ola’s purported market share
$60 bn Uber’s estimated worldwide valuation. US-based ride-hailing company seen as one of the most valuable start-ups. No separate estimate available for India entity
$5 bn SoftBank-backed Ola’s valuation
PROJECTION OF TAXI APP MARKET IN INDIA:
$7 bn in 2020
(Sources: Companies, industry estimates)
ON A COLLISION COURSE
February 2016: A contempt of court plea was filed by Ola Cabs against Uber, claiming that the US giant flouted court’s earlier directives and is still adding and plying diesel vehicles in Delhi.
Uber India, on the other hand, accused Ola of submitting “false and fabricated” documents to the court for achieving “illegal business gains”
March 2016: Ola launched a new class of ‘Micro’ cabs, which have a base fare ranging from Rs 35 to Rs 45, at rates of Rs 6/km. The launch of the new fleet was seen as an attempt to undercut the prices of UberGo, Uber’s cheapest class of cab available in the country, which ranges from Rs 6 to Rs 8/km.
March 2016: On the very same day Uber launched its bike taxis ‘uberMoto’, Ola announced that it has launched its pilot ‘Bike Taxis’ in Bengaluru. Sources said that Ola purposely coincided its launch with Uber.