In addition to the roads in the cities around India, Uber and Ola will now battle it out in the courtroom. Uber has sued Ola for $7.5 million ( Or around ₹50 crores) for trying to sabotage its platform by repeatedly making fake bookings and then immediately cancelling them. This resulted in loss of revenue and reputation for the company, Uber alleges.
The court case had first come to light last month, but new details have surfaced after a Reuters investigation. Uber had formed a 7 member internal team in November after several drivers had complained of a spurt in cancelled bookings. The investigation team had identified locations and IP addresses of tens of thousands of users who had booked and cancelled rides, using information logged when a new customer account is created on Uber’s platform. In court documents, Uber says it found 660 accounts used to make troublesome bookings came from a building housing Ola’s office in the western city of Pune. Most of the rest were created near Ola’s office in the tech hub Bengaluru. Uber alleges that more than 23,000 of its drivers quit due to “illegal and wrongful interference” between September 2015 and February 2016.
Uber’s has made several submissions before the courts, including several images of LinkedIn profiles, locations pinpointed with Google Maps and hundreds of phone numbers it said belonged to people associated with Ola.
But apart from the fake bookings, Uber also levels and even more serious charge against its competitor. Uber claims that on New Years Eve 2015, Uber drivers had begun gettng calls around 5pm asking them to shut down their apps as there was a technical glitch which needed to be fixed. Uber says it made no such calls. New Years eve is one of the busiest times for cab hailing apps, and Uber alleges that several of its drivers were unavailable thanks to the rumour that was spread.
Ola, for its part, has denied all charges. It says that many of its phone numbers are in public record and Uber could’ve got them from these sources. Ola says it will battle Uber in courts, and the date of the first hearing for September 2016.
Ola and Uber are locked in a bitter battle for supremacy in India’s cab hailing market. While clear data is not available, both sides claim conflicting numbers about their market shares.