Philippines Tech

Philippine antitrust body fines Grab’s local unit, orders passenger refund

20, Nov. 2019

Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balisacan announces the imposition of fines to the local unit of Singapore-based ride-hailing service firm Grab Holding Inc. at a press conference in Manila on Nov. 18, 2019.

MANILA, NNA – A Philippine government antitrust agency has fined the local unit of ride-hailing service firm Grab Holding Inc. 23.45 million pesos ($462,600) and ordered it to refund passengers who it believes were overcharged.

The fine extends legal issues that have dogged the Singapore-based service’s Philippine unit since a heavily watched merger last year.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said in a statement it had decided to fine Grab Philippines for breaching price commitments at times between August 2018 and May 2019.

Of the total fine, the ride hailing service will refund 5.05 million pesos to passengers who booked between February and May. Grab Philippines must pay back passengers within 60 days of Nov. 14.

Grab Philippines said it would cooperate. “(Grab Philippines) will work closely with the PCC in implementing the agreed mechanics for the payment,” the service said in a statement.

In 2018, the commission had ordered Grab Philippines to follow certain conditions for one year to protect consumers from unfair practices. The commission made that order after approving the Grab Philippines merger with the local unit of U.S. Uber Technologies Inc., a deal that the government agency said had created a near monopoly.

The commission also extended those conditions for another year from Oct. 1, it announced at a news conference Monday. These conditions include fare transparency and fare caps. Grab fares normally fluctuate according to shifts in demand for rides.

“This effectively extends the PCC’s hold on Grab to conditions that prevent it from behaving like a monopolist to the detriment of the riding public,” commission Chairman Arseno Balisacan told the news conference.

In January, the agency had fined Grab 6.5 million pesos after it submitted insufficient fare monitoring data. Grab and Uber were also ordered to pay a 16 million peso penalty in October 2018 for rushing their merger deal.

The latest fine reflects a Philippine government effort to stop Grab from overcharging passengers, who because of the merger have fewer app-based taxi choices. Eight other accredited ride-hailing firms operate in the Philippines, but with a small combined market share.

Also last year, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, a public transport regulator, fined Grab 10 million pesos for charging its passengers an additional of 2 pesos per minute on top of its approved fees.

Grab, an app-based service started 2012, says on its website it has provided 3 billion rides covering a combined 21 billion kilometers.

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