Surge pricing can be a pain, but this is a bit much.
Sushil Narsian from Mumbai had booked an Ola to travel from Mulund West to Vakola Market, but his phone stopped working as the driver was approaching the pick-up spot. He tried to walk towards his cab, but the driver had cancelled by then. When Narsian tried booking again, he was in for a bit of a shock – Ola wasn’t letting him book another cab because his outstanding bill was Rs. 1,49,10,51,648.
— Sushil Narsian (@SushilNarsian) April 1, 2017
It was 1st April, so Narsian would’ve thought it was some sort of an April Fool’s joke. Ola, indeed, has developed a bit of a reputation as being a April Fool’s Day prankster. In 2015, the company had announced that it was launching OlaAir, a helicopter cab service, and last year, it said that had tied up with Oyo to create something called Ola Rooms. This year, Ola had announced the launch of OlaWheels, a segway-like service which would ferry people around corporate offices.
As it transpired, this was a genuine glitch. Narsian contacted Ola, and the company told him as much. The Rs. 149 crore charge was reversed in two hours, and Narsian didn’t have to face potential bankruptcy because of a cab ride.
But these bloated bills seem to be a regular occurrence on Ola. In September last year, a Hyderabad-based man had been charged Rs. 9 lakh after a ride, and just days later, the company had billed someone Rs. 83,000 for a ride between Mumbai and Pune. Both charges had been ultimately reversed, but there is clearly some sort of a bug in the Ola app. And it shouldn’t be hard to correct – if the app calculates that the fare is above a permissible limit, maybe it shouldn’t display a fare at all, and instead require a human to intervene? Ola’s app determines fares thousands of times across the country on a daily basis, and wrongly calculated fares don’t exactly confidence in its service.