Senators slam Grab's 'predatory pricing, overcharging'

MANILA, Philippines – At least two senators slammed the alleged overcharging of ride-hailing service Grab, calling on the government to ensure commuters' protection.

Senate public services committee chairperson Grace Poe said Grab, as the "surviving" company after buying Uber, has no right to charge consumers higher fares.

"There should be no room for predatory pricing by a firm allowed to engage in public service. Being the surviving entity does not authorize Grab to grab more profits," Poe said in a statement.

She added that the government should find a middle ground, saying regulatory agencies should both protect the riding public from exorbitant fees and Grab drivers from low income despite hard work.

"I am hopeful that through dialogue and open channels of communication, all the stakeholders can strike a balance that will not hurt the pocket of Grab's riders but will not leave Grab's drivers empty-handed either.... 'Yung tamang presyo at serbisyo na masaya ang lahat (The right price and service so everyone is happy)," she said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said government regulators, such as the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), should probe the cost structure of ride-hailing services.

"Dito papasok ang close monitoring ng LTFRB and PCC sa anti-competitive practices (This is where the LTFRB and the PCC's close monitoring of anti-competitive practices comes in).... They should also establish benchmarks that are internationally accepted to detect potential abuses of a monopoly," Gatchalian said.

He called on the LTFRB to require Grab to provide a breakdown of charges in its receipts for transparency.

"Dapat i-review ng LTFRB ang lahat ng fees at charges na pinapatong sa commuters. At huwag payagan mag-charge ng mas mataas pa kaysa sa ibang bansa. I-mandato din ng LTFRB ang Grab na i-breakdown ang resibo at maging mas transparent pa sa mga singil sa commuters," Gatchalian said.

(The LTFRB should review all fees and charges passed on to commuters. They should not allow the charging of fees that are higher than in other countries. The LTFRB should also mandate Grab to provide a breakdown in its receipts and be more transparent in charging commuters.)

PBA Representative Jericho Nograles earlier said Grab should refund its customers P1.8 billion for the last 5 months alone for supposedly "illegally" charging P2 per minute. The LTFRB then issued a show-cause order telling the company to explain.

Grab, for its part, maintained that it has always been "transparent" with its fare scheme. It explained that the P2-per-minute charge was conceptualized to assure Grab drivers that they "would have a greater chance of making ends meet" despite heavy traffic congestion in the metro. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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