Taxi services

Read the fine print: India’s app-based taxi services aren’t responsible for your safety — Quartz India

A woman’s rape accusation against her Uber taxi driver on Friday December 5 has significant implications for India’s booming third-party transport industry.

For one thing, it shattered an unspoken assumption that these operators were safe. Second, media attention has opened up their business models to government scrutiny.

But to get to the heart of the matter, it’s necessary to understand how taxi aggregation services like Uber, Ola, and TaxiForSure see themselves. They do not see themselves as a taxi service, but as players in the information business. Their business is to list available taxi partners on their app and then provide customers with a method to connect (and in some cases pay) for rides.

Even with Meru, a Radio Taxi licensed company, it’s just a matter of luck whether or not the company is responsible for the services rendered – if you’re in one of their fleet taxis, they assume the responsibility. Otherwise (and there is no specific way to choose) you are in the same situation as any other business. About half of their total fleet is owned by drivers.

A close and workable comparison would be the difference between a travel ticket booking company and an airline. Taxi services think of themselves as a ticket booking company, finding taxi rides like one would research flights and booking them for the customer. Yet, given the local and distributed nature of the market, most consumers see these apps as the ultimate service provider.

So how does this affect you as a consumer? To understand this, here are excerpts from the terms of service of the four most commonly used apps: Uber, Ola, TaxiForSure and Meru (i.e. if you book a taxi through Meru but it does not belong to the company).

Uber itself does not provide transportation services and Uber is not a carrier. It is the Carrier’s responsibility to offer the transport services, which can be requested through the use of the Application and/or the Service. Uber only acts as an intermediary between you and the Carrier. The provision of the transport services by the Carrier to you is therefore subject to the agreement (to) concluded between you and the Carrier. Uber will never be a party to such an agreement.

The client accepts and acknowledges that the use of the Services offered by the Company is at the sole risk of the client… Without prejudice to the foregoing, the Company makes no representation or warranty that:

a. the Services will meet customer requirements;

b. the Services will be uninterrupted, timely, secure or error-free.

TFS promises to do its best to provide sufficient training, procedures and quality control processes to ensure the best services by TFS. However, under no circumstances accepts liability in connection with and/or arising out of the transportation services provided by TFS or for any act, action, conduct, conduct and/or negligence on the part of TFS.

The quality of taxi services requested through the use of the Application or the Service is entirely the responsibility of the Service Provider who ultimately provides you with such taxi services.

Indeed, the terms and conditions of these apps are united to state that they are not liable for any damages you would incur while riding in their taxis.

The legal position of these service providers has not yet been tested in India. Will the courts treat them as a taxi service provider or limit them to a marketplace, like ebay or OLX?

What is clear, however, is that the main reason why these taxi services have operated in India is due to the massive demand for low cost and safe taxi operations in the country. These services provide much-needed mobility to many people.

Therefore, the response to the event must also be reviewed.

Was there a heinous crime? Yes.

Should the culprits be punished? Under the full force of the law.

Is there a need for greater security? Yes, in fact, it creates a greater obligation for these services to screen and monitor drivers and track rides. One suggestion is the need for a panic button on mobile apps or cars.

Will a ban help reduce sexual assault? Probably not.

It would be a goofy move on the part of the government seeking to impose a ban to avoid a public relations disaster.

Rather, it is an opportunity to review these requests and establish viable standards of service and care. At a time when online marketplaces and aggregators are proliferating, it remains to be seen whether the government has any appetite for such reform, although the Delhi government’s knee-jerk reaction to ban Uber altogether is proof that it does not. is probably not the case.