The government may dream of a cashless country, but for Ola consumers in Chennai going cashless is turning into a major ordeal.
For some weeks now, several commuters report that the first question they get asked when hailing a cab is “Ola Money or cash?” And if they should pick the e-wallet option, cab drivers immediately cancel the ride and ask them to find another cab.
As a result, commuters say they face a hard choice between running around to the nearest ATM after every ride or waiting for a long time to find a driver willing to accept Ola Money.
Selvi, a frequent Ola customer, says that "I'm often left stranded because drivers cancel the ride once I tell them I'm paying by Ola Money. It takes time to rebook and wait for another cab, which is especially troublesome at night."
Suranjan, another regular commuter, says, "I maintain a balance for Ola Money, but if drivers don't accept these payments, it lies idle. I end up having to spend cash when I prefer not to."
Multiple Ola drivers allege that they are forced to refuse rides because Ola does not reimburse their daily earnings on time. According to company policy, “all [..] outstanding payments at the end of a day are transferred to [the driver’s] bank account within 2 working days.” However, this is frequently not the case, allege drivers.
While some drivers say that it takes a couple of days beyond the stipulated time for them to receive the money, others, say that it takes them up to a week or more to be paid their dues. “We call up Ola support frequently, but it is of little use. They just tell us to wait,” says Anandhan, who has been driving with Ola for around two years.
He says he is reluctant to accept payments in Ola Money, but is often left with no choice, as most customers prefer paying as such. “We have to take these rides, or we won’t meet our daily targets,” he explains.
Drivers also allege that when they fail to meet their daily targets, set by Ola, they are often deprived of timely payments. Anandhan says that the more often drivers are unable to meet the target, the longer it takes for them to be paid. “If we were given more realistic targets, we would be able to satisfy them. But it’s hard to keep driving the whole day [to meet these targets],” he rues.
When their payments get delayed, drivers add, it becomes harder for them to keep their cabs running, since they find themselves without money for their immediate expenses, including fuel for the cab. drivers find it hard to keep up with daily expenses. “We need money for fuel and our family’s daily needs. If we take a lot of payments in Ola Money, we simply don’t have cash,” complains another Ola driver, who does not wish to disclose his name. Showing the Rs 350, he carries in his pocket, he complains, “I’ve driven for more than Rs 2000, but this is all I have with me. I don’t know when I’ll get the rest.”
Several drivers approached Ola about three months ago to address their grievances, and even resorted to a strike, says Anandhan. Their actions, however, yielded no results.
Despite multiple attempts to contact them, Ola representatives did not offer any response on the allegations. Meanwhile, with drivers’ continuing to face a cash crunch, Chennai’s commuters continue to face problems in the form of canceled rides and forced cash payments.