Have WiseTechie.com email ?
Login Wisetechie.com email


Mar 30

 

A few loyal readers would remember I had gone on a crusade (sort of) against Uber and their excess toll charges on going to the airport in Hyderabad. After a bunch of to and fro and escalations and the fact that the article was trending on Ycombinator, Uber has finally come back with a sensible response which satisfies me. Uber has finally admitted that overlapping tolls were incorrectly collected by the app and they have temporarily modified their software to only collect the 1 toll which is legitimate till they can get a more permanent solution. They have admitted what I had been telling them from Day 0 that the tolls were overlapping and it was a bug in their software.

Its hard to make a multi-billion dollar company accept fault and make changes, but consumers when they unite can pretty much achieve anything. Thanks to everyone who supported me either by sharing the article or by up-voting it on various platforms. Here is the final response from Uber on the matter :

Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 2:52:28 PM · uberGO

Hey,

Thanks for writing back, glad to clarify your concerns better. Sorry about any confusion thus far. We’ve dug deeper into why this happened and figured that there was a technicality due to which a few tolls have overlapped and hence the repetitive toll charges. You should have been charged only INR 30 in this case.

Until we fix this issue, we’ve temporarily disabled all the tolls apart from airport parking fee and those to and from ORR to Shamshabad. That said, any and every toll charges that are liable to be paid to the competent authority will go there and we simply provide a platform for you to pay for them in a seamless fashion. We do not hold these charges as they are needed to be passed on to the authorities.

Having said that, we’ve dropped the toll charges completely. Also as mentioned earlier, feedback has been given to the support for the miscommunication and we’ve taken necessary steps.

So if you are taking an Uber to the Hyderabad Airport and you are charged the correct toll, don’t forget that it was a consumer who raised his voice and escalated till the voice reached the right people and the issue was fixed. And you’re welcome :)


Mar 29

When you see the below video, you kind of feel its an open and shut case. A customer was recording the sorry state of a CCD outlet and a lunatic employee who had no business interacting with humans decides to slap him. One would assume the coffee chain would apologize, fire the employee for conduct unbecoming of their employee and life would go on. Except that it is India ! In a twist akin to Bollywood movies, the coffee chain files a false molestation case against the customer, refuses to apologize publically and tries to use the fake case as a bargaining chip(allegedly)  to get the customer to withdraw his original case against the coffee chain. I can see a Bollywood movie being written on this case (Cafe Cockroach Day).

However its not funny folks. A publicly listed company is involved here and their lawyer allegedly asked the boy to take back the complaint to remove the FIR. With such clear video evidence, the police is still proceeding to arrest him on the molestation charges and the boy’s life and future is in jeopardy. Meanwhile CCD’s employee’s (Priyanka Priyadarshini)  story goes something like this :

“Around 1pm on March 12, Verma and another person came to the café and ordered coffee and some beverages. When I told them that only coffee was available as the branch near Hawa Mahal was temporary, they got angry and Verma called me a slut and bitch,” the woman said.

“They returned after 20 minutes and started taking the video of cockroaches in the café. They also focused their camera on me despite my objection. I tried to grab the camera and in the process the mobile phone fell down from Verma’s hand,” she wrote in her complaint.

Now there is no way to ascertain if the 1st sentence is correct, it remains he said, she said. However the second sentence is clearly a lie. She slapped him, plain and simple, no she was not grabbing the camera, and she herself was recording him. Even if the 1st sentence is deemed to be correct, is calling someone a bitch or a slut a crime that merits arrest ? In the video, the person making the video seems to be talking calmly and respectfully to the employee so it seems less likely she was telling the truth. Also CCD has not released any video CCTV footage and neither has the employee was was also seen recording on her phone and then getting outraged when he proceeded to record her face.

So what can we do ?

I believe all of us have a responsibility here , there is nothing CCD loves more than their bottomline and their topline, so to make them do something you have to hit them where it hurts the most.

  1. Continue boycott of CCD outlets, I am not saying goto a competitor, but pledge not to goto CCD. They will notice the footfall drop.
  2. Write to Cafe Coffee Day customer care asking them to withdraw the case and apologize for the incident. Say that you are scared that they will slap a fake case against you and give you cockroach coffee.
  3. Engage in social media and use hashtags such as #BoycottCCD to put more pressure onto the coffee outlet to do the right thing.
  4. Delete and uninstall their apps on your phones and write a review which talks about this incident and your feelings about the same.

Today its this person, tomorrow it could be you.


Mar 27

This day just got even more bizarre. A sensational video has come out which shows a Café Coffee Day female employee slapping a customer when he tries to showcase cockroaches in the food storage area. In the video the customer claims that the lady was rude to him and as he shows her face in the phone, she slaps him hard and asks him how can he take her photo as if its a crime against the nation to do so. It was not as it he was making a lewd video, he was showcasing a genuine health hazard. Well a picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is worth a 1000 pictures:

Now the video is pretty clear and a case of assault should be filed against the lady at CCD. However in a disgusting turn of events, we were informed that a case has been filed by the lady from CCD against the customer for harassment. We all know how skewed laws are in India against men and one can very much imagine that this lady also is trying to use laws meant for protecting women to get out of this mess.

image

In the meantime #CockroachCoffeeDay is the hashtag we want to trend. Meanwhile CCD has put up a notice on its official facebook and twitter channels promising an investigation but no apologies. As you can see from some of the comments on these posts, CCD seems to have acted in malice when the issue was first reported to them. It could also have been a tactic to prevent the customer from releasing the video to the media.

image

Update – 29 March 2017

CCD has released a statement that it has ‘suspended’ the said employee. The statement still does not apologize for the behavior of the staff or the cockroaches. Also does not address the fake complaint by the staff.

“The lady team member referred here hails from rural Orissa and is part of the programme run by NGO Gram Tarang to uplift weaker sections of society and girl child specially. She underwent rigorous training on joining us to become a team member and was posted in Jaipur. As per lady team member, she had objected to her video being taken by the customer and her repeated requests were also not heard, thus invading her privacy. Till the time thorough investigation is being done, lady team member has been kept off duty,” it said.

Vigorous training does not seem to have helped here. Although its a noble cause, corporations need to be careful about who they hire for people facing roles. In this case the NGO as well as the company seem to have made a mistake hiring someone who appears to be mentally unstable into a job that often requires you to be extremely calm in difficult situations. Ironically the NGO Gram Tarang lists Cafe Coffee Day as a success story of its employment training practices. Hopefully this was just an aberration and the NGO is able to revisit their training and practices to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

As for CCD, I don’t really have a lot of sympathy for them given their extreme reluctance to admit fault in the matter and their attempt to use the legal framework to cheat and deceive the customer.


Mar 27

I was visiting Hyderabad after a few years last week and on the way back to the airport, I decided to hire an Uber since it was cheaper than Meru and others.

After the ride, the price seemed a bit steeper than what I expected, Upon looking deeper into the fare, I saw this 90 rupee toll charge which didn’t make any sense to me. I have lived in Hyderabad for around 4 years and also know the areas pretty well, there is only 1 toll on the route and nothing else. The driver only paid a toll of 30 rupees but I was still charged 90 rupees as the toll by the Uber app.

Now it isn’t really about odd 60 rupees on this 1 trip, but imagine that Uber is making thousands of trips everyday to the airport and possibly cheating riders of lakhs of rupees everyday. For me its also about principle, I don’t want to give Uber or the driver more money than what is due to them. You can find a screenshot with the excess toll highlighted in the screenshot below. My trip was from Radisson in Hitech to the Airport.

image

I immediately wrote off an email to Uber asking for a breakup of the toll charged to me and an explanation of the charges. I got canned/copy-paste responses explaining to me what tolls were and the fact that Uber collects them but nothing that would actually tell me what the 90 rupees were for. After 4 tries, I decided to invoke the Uber Twitter team to help out in the matter. Usually social media has better teams assisting on issues. Upon escalation on Twitter, I finally got someone who is half competent to respond to my query and the response was funny, apparently Uber thinks I exited and re-entered the 1 straight road from Gachibowli to the Airport 4 times.

image

Now it doesn’t take a genius to see that multiple roads are repeated above, basically 4 permutations of reaching from Gachibowli to the Airport. I responded on twitter on how this is obviously incorrect and am waiting to hear back. The toll combination doesn’t even pass the sniff test for coherence.

Additionally, armed with this extra information, I wrote off to the Uber support in the app telling them how obviously the toll charged is incorrect. Here is when things get surreal and funny. The Uber support folks thought I was the driver and not the rider. They actually told me to keep the extra toll money and forget about overcharging the customer. Wow ! So they just realized they cheated a customer and they are telling their driver to keep mum instead of refunding the extra money to the rider. You cannot make this shit up.

image

We are therefore not making any adjustments so that you can keep the higher fare you received.

I had heard Uber had questionable ethics as a company, but this is beyond ridiculous, instead of admitting a mistake in their platform and refunding the excess money charged to a customer, not only are they making me run around and spend more money and effort on this than its worth. But they are also asking the driver to keep the extra dough and not worry about it being illegitimate gains. Had they refunded me and told the driver to keep the money, it would have been different, but they actually just cheated me in the process.

Lets ensure it reaches to the people who matter in the company so that the software issues are fixed and money is refunded to everyone who has been overcharged by Uber due to this toll calculation issue.

Update 1 – 27 March 2017

Till date I have received 8 useless responses from 1st level customer service giving me uninteresting facts about Uber’s service. Their 1st level customer service is seriously messed up.

Update 2 – 27 March 2017

Uber employees are now just closing tickets without responding (actually responding with a ‘M’) and pleas to escalate to supervisors have been ignored.

image

Update 3 – 29 March 2017

So this really blew up, the site is slammed since yesterday with a ton of traffic coming from Ycombinator and Twitter and Facebook and Reddit. Thanks to everyone who shared this post. One of my friend’s who works in Uber also internally escalated this and we got partial resolution. The toll charges were in fact refunded to me but Uber continues to deny that they did anything wrong. They now claim that some hidden charges are there which every driver is paying. I have asked for a clarification on what that means since clearly there was no other money paid by the driver in the journey. I am yet to hear back on that, also no word on why the driver was asked to keep the money when support thought he was telling them they overcharged the customer or why support itself admitted due to technical issues extra toll was collected.

In conclusion, the image of Uber I had has been shattered even further, the site’s support team seems like a bunch of high school kids who don’t know what they are doing, there is no internal or external escalation mechanism in the company and the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. I have zero faith that the actual issue due to which the toll was incorrect would be resolved.

If I receive a response to obvious inconsistencies in Uber’s chain of events, I will update the post again. Thanks for all the support folks.