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Old 23rd August 2019, 21:24   #1
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Default Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

Folks,

I'm literally shocked while writing this. People say it doesn't affect you till it doesn't happen with you personally. A very close friend of mine was on the receiving end today as an Ola Cab she was travelling in caught fire in New Delhi, and she literally had to jump off the vehicle to save her life on a busy road with heavy traffic.

She was fortunate enough that she didn't get trapped in the vehicle or that when she jumped out of the burning vehicle, she didn't get hit by a vehicle coming from behind.

To add insult to the injury, Ola is yet to respond with a concrete action plan on how they intend to remedy this gross negligence. We've already written to them on Twitter and other suitable fora.

Attaching a few pictures of the burning vehicle and a snap of the note my friend has written to bring this to Bhavish Aggarwal's notice.

Long story short, cab aggregators in India are fast losing the little credibility they enjoy, and no one in their right minds would consider travelling in such a poorly maintained and unmonitored cab that these aggregators try to pass on as a premium offering!
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Old 23rd August 2019, 21:32   #2
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Default re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

All cars can catch fire, there is nothing special about Ola for the incident to stand out. Why does your friend want compensation?

In such a case, I would expect Ola to have reached out to your friend to offer support & medical assistance. It's not clear from the rant whether that was done or not. But to blame Ola for a fire in one of their cabs is frankly silly. If anything, I would blame Hyundai, the owner-driver, rodents, after-market accessories or plain bad luck (in no particular order).

Tell your friend to take a chill pill and thank her lucky stars / God / guardian angel / whatever she believes in that she was able to walk away from such an incident. I would have a celebratory dinner!

Last edited by GTO : 23rd August 2019 at 21:34.
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Old 23rd August 2019, 21:48   #3
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
All cars can catch fire, there is nothing special about Ola for the incident to stand out.

But to blame Ola for a fire in one of their cabs is frankly silly. If anything, I would blame Hyundai, the owner-driver, rodents, after-market accessories or plain bad luck (in no particular order).
Exactly my thoughts when I read this. The fault lies with the manufacturer of the vehicle or the A.S.S. or the accessory shop whatever.
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Old 23rd August 2019, 23:12   #4
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

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Originally Posted by AMG Power View Post
Exactly my thoughts when I read this. The fault lies with the manufacturer of the vehicle or the A.S.S. or the accessory shop whatever.
I am sorry but does that mean that the company does not have any role in checking the condition or fitness of the car? Are they just there to earn money and turn a blind eye towards the customer?

A few days back I booked a Sedan as I was traveling with my family and had luggage too. A few minutes later, a Suzuki Desire shows up which had a CNG tank in the boot which made the boot of the car completely unusable. I had to stuff my luggage on the front seat and all of us had to squeeze in the back seat. Uber charged me for Sedan however I could not utilize the space I booked the car for. When I contacted support they simply said they will pass on the feedback and closed the complaint. If I had to anyway travel with my luggage on the front seat then I could have booked a mini and could have traveled in a Wagon R or any other car in that segment.

I am glad that the passenger in the car is safe however these companies need to step in too.
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Old 23rd August 2019, 23:31   #5
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
All cars can catch fire, there is nothing special about Ola for the incident to stand out. Why does your friend want compensation?

In such a case, I would expect Ola to have reached out to your friend to offer support & medical assistance. It's not clear from the rant whether that was done or not. But to blame Ola for a fire in one of their cabs is frankly silly. If anything, I would blame Hyundai, the owner-driver, rodents, after-market accessories or plain bad luck (in no particular order).

Tell your friend to take a chill pill and thank her lucky stars / God / guardian angel / whatever she believes in that she was able to walk away from such an incident. I would have a celebratory dinner!
She is absolutely thanking her lucky stars she's safe! However, what worries us is the complete lack of checks and balances that these Cab aggregators should otherwise have to ensure cars carrying their brand name are properly maintained and routinely checked for issues.

Her 'rant' is that of a concerned consumer who got into the cab believing in Ola as a brand. No one can ofcourse anticipate such an incident, but the measures a responsible aggregator should have in place for prevention, and how you handle the fallout from such incidents, is what goes a long way in reposing brand trust.

Also, I grant that intangible damages in India are often passed off as non-issues, but she literally had to be given traquilizers to subside her mental trauma, and the lukewarm response from Ola on this issue isn't helping either. I am sure a top executive from the same Ola would've gotten involved to help the affected, had such an incident happened with a cab aggregated by them in some of the more developed parts of the world.

Apologies if this thread doesn't belong here on the forum. Thought of narrating a personally harrowing experience with fellow motorists here. Mods, please feel free to delete.

Last edited by SuvidC : 23rd August 2019 at 23:51. Reason: Grammatical issues
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Old 24th August 2019, 08:55   #6
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

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Originally Posted by SuvidC View Post
She is absolutely thanking her lucky stars she's safe! However, what worries us is the complete lack of checks and balances that these Cab aggregators should otherwise have to ensure cars carrying their brand name are properly maintained and routinely checked for issues.


Also, I grant that intangible damages in India are often passed off as non-issues, but she literally had to be given traquilizers to subside her mental trauma, and the lukewarm response from Ola on this issue isn't helping either. I am sure a top executive from the same Ola would've gotten involved to help the affected, had such an incident happened with a cab aggregated by them in some of the more developed parts of the world.

Apologies if this thread doesn't belong here on the forum. Thought of narrating a personally harrowing experience with fellow motorists here. Mods, please feel free to delete.
Firstly 'Thankfully you friend is safe'.

I would have done exactly as she is. The fact is, almost all these cabs have some form of electrical modification for which you cannot blame Hyundai. But Ola/Uber as an aggregator should try to do more, to ensure their cars are in better condition!

Whilst I agree that the fault lies with - 'Hyundai, the owner-driver, rodents, after-market accessories or plain bad luck (in no particular order)' - He car was booked on an Ola App, there has to be some response from them!

Last edited by Samir Taheer : 24th August 2019 at 08:58.
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Old 24th August 2019, 09:42   #7
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

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Originally Posted by racsaxen View Post
I am sorry but does that mean that the company does not have any role in checking the condition or fitness of the car?
No, it means that Ola needs to check why the main emphasis by the complainant is on receiving compensation rather than seeking action against the driver or staff involved or ascertaining the reasons for such an incident or measures that would be taken to make her future rides safer.

She should also be advised to get a lawyer that can draft well so that her financial intentions are hidden well and don't become too obvious.
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Old 24th August 2019, 09:51   #8
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

Suvid, glad your friend is safe.

We could certainly do with more context on the accident; that may help readers understand what transpired while the car went up in flames.

I'm inclined to side with your friend's thought of demanding a clarification from Ola; not necessarily compensation, but definitely answers on how they manage the car running on their platform. Here's why: don't we all prefer an Uber/Ola over private cabs because we expect a standard/uniform service and customer support.

Say you stay in a 5* Marriott property. If something goes wrong, wouldn't you demand an explanation from Marriott first and expect them to task the company running the hotel on their brand.

Uber/Ola have been washing their hands off accidents/unfortunate incidents involving their cars/drivers by conveniently claiming they are merely a technology platform.

That said, I agree with GTO on holding the driver and Hyundai more accountable for this accident. Your friend should spend just as much, or more, effort in getting Hyundai to task.
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Old 24th August 2019, 09:59   #9
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

First - Is the driver ok? In all this, we forgot that there was another human being in that car facing equal risk as your friend. So, a word about his safety would be nice.

Now my uncalled for two cents on the topic of compensation - I do believe that Ola should have reached out to your friend and been more courteous. After all, she hailed an Ola and not some random cabbie on her own. They can't just hide behind the 'aggregator' excuse. Yet, I am sure we all must have agreed to a certain clause indemnifying the aggregator while signing-up to such apps/services.

As per me, this should be more ethical than a legal response from Ola and they should respond with sensitivity and empathy. However, from the tone and tenor of your friend's email, I expect Ola to forward this to their legal team instead of the customer service team.

In hindsight, posting details of the actual event without bringing the compensation angle into the public domain might have been more prudent.
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Old 24th August 2019, 10:11   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMG Power View Post
She should also be advised to get a lawyer that can draft well so that her financial intentions are hidden well and don't become too obvious.
Would like to clarify that 'compensation' in her note doesn't necessarily relate to monetary compensation- far from it. She is herself a qualified lawyer and what she means when she says 'compensation' is a truthful and fact-based assurance from Ola that this happened despite their best efforts to keep their cabs safe, on which Ola has fallen short by a big margin IMHO.

Also, I understand that monetary compensation for something as intangible as psychological trouble and trauma invariably leads to victim shaming in India since the concept has not really caught up here. For us, if it is not physical or apparent damage, there's no damage at all which warrants compensation, and the victim is then squarely trying to make a fortune out of their apparently non-existent misery!

We're also missing a major point here. If you look closely, the cab has 'Uber' inscribed on the back glass. In fact, Uber responded to a tweet on this incident by some journalist yesterday when he confused the cab to be belonging to Uber from that stickering. It remains to be seen, therefore, if the cab was running cross-paltform on Ola as well as Uber. I am unsure if these aggregators allow such a practice, but it certainly doesn't inspire confidence on how do these aggregators ensure fitness of these cabs which run cross-platform, if they do that at all.

Waiting for Ola to respond with something more than a standard 'We're looking into it'. Will keep this thread updated.

Quote:
We could certainly do with more context on the accident; that may help readers understand what transpired while the car went up in flames.
She was travelling to her office on a usual Friday afternoon. The cab was passing through the Ashoka Road area in New Delhi and she was talking on her phone when she saw thick smoke coming out of the car's hood. That covered driver's view but he thankfully was driving close to the road's shoulder so pulled up immediately without risking collision on an otherwise busy street. She then opened the car's door and jumped off, while the driver followed. Within seconds of their alighting, the car went up in flames, with several vehicles still plying on the road. She hit the SOS button on the app and some other friends she called alerted the police. By that time, traffic police had cordoned off the area and a fire tender was alerted.

Quote:
First - Is the driver ok? In all this, we forgot that there was another human being in that car facing equal risk as your friend. So, a word about his safety would be nice.
Apologies, should've mentioned it in the first go. The driver is absolutely safe with no physical injuries. My friend also tried to console him for the loss of apparently what was his bread-winner. He was also clueless as to what caused the sudden fire, since per him, the car had not given him any real trouble in the recent past. I think we will have more answers if and when Ola chooses to thoroughly investigate and bring this incident to a closure, of-course with help and answers from Hyundai.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 24th August 2019 at 13:53. Reason: Merging back to back posts. Please use multi-quote option to reply to multiple posts.
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Old 24th August 2019, 12:04   #11
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

@SuvidC, thank you for sharing this incident and being candid about it. All of us readers benefit from learning a little more even if some have criticized you or your friend. First I am relieved to hear both passenger and driver are safe. I rarely use Ola/Uber but my grown up kids are using them all the time and that lady could have been my daughter.

Ola & Uber have not learnt the fine art of basic customer service and customer empathy. And that is what shows up in several incidents around their service including safety of women passengers. IMHO this lack of effort to stitch in customer service with a smile is a direct result of the subtle arrogance that comes from having shareholders who will seemingly fund losses forever. A normal business which must survive on customer support and loyalty tries hard in its own way to win and please customers and to go the extra half mile to soothe a ruffled customer. At least that is my experience from building (and now exited) two businesses over my life. But when you know you you can burn as much cash as is needed to grow and you are not dependent on the customer to raise cash each day and with each transaction then this 'could not care less' attitude is almost always inevitable. It also results in a culture where middle tier executives are not bothered about that extra mile of customer service because they don't see their seniors do it and know that those are not the metrics they are being measured on. Thus Ola-Uber do not care to retain the paying customer or the supplier (the cabbie). They are only being measured on growth and resultant valuation.

My unasked for advice to your friend - be clear of your aims. Is it compensation, or a serious response from them, or to vent anger - all three are legitimate aims. In India the law does not allow compensation beyond actual harm suffered unlike USA where extortionist figures rule. Take some friendly advice from a lawyer on drafting. Angry sounding letters frighten hardened companies a lot less than a calm well drafted one. IMHO while Ola cannot control or prevent a car catching fire (it is more a manufacturer-maintenance issue) they do have a fiduciary responsibility to do their reasonable best to ensure quality of maintenance, drivers, training, attitudes. Just like if a flight suffers an engine failure mid-air the customer will look to the airline and the airline cannot hide behind -"I did not build the engine, ABC did" or " I don't maintain the engines XYZ MRO does" and so on. Best of luck.
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Old 24th August 2019, 12:10   #12
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

To say that Cab aggregator has no role to play in this incident would be bit off the mark in my humble opinion. I am not aware that what are the terms and conditions to drive a cab under Ola umbrella. But a clean service history, fitness certificate, valid insurance, training of the driver in providing first aid, police verification of driver, self declaration by the driver etc. should be part of the engagement between an aggregator and cab owner/driver.

Also like any other modes of transport, passengers are within their rights to seek compensation (from aggregator/cab owner) for any life threatening trauma or injuries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post

My unasked for advice to your friend - be clear of your aims. Is it compensation, or a serious response from them, or to vent anger - all three are legitimate aims. In India the law does not allow compensation beyond actual harm suffered unlike USA where extortionist figures rule. Best of luck.
Argument summed up beautifully, thank you.

Last edited by Motor_Nut : 24th August 2019 at 12:16. Reason: Quoted another post.
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Old 24th August 2019, 13:24   #13
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

So a cab caught fire. In Delhi. It's probably running on CNG, is HR or UP registered, and the driver / owner couldn't care a damn about safety when he had the CNG kit installed from a fly-by-night operator, and the certification of kit installation added to his RC through an agent who took a couple of thousand rupees to pay off the guy signing this off at the RTO.

Ola / Uber only check that the vehicle has proper registration & insurance, and the driver has a valid DL with no criminal record. They do not do a fitness check of the fleet they connect a user to. So how are they liable when a cab aggregated by them goes up in flames?

Cabs going up in flames is nothing new in Delhi. I've seen a few, and here's one right on the street where I live.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 24th August 2019 at 13:25.
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Old 24th August 2019, 13:32   #14
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Just like if a flight suffers an engine failure mid-air the customer will look to the airline and the airline cannot hide behind -"I did not build the engine, ABC did" or " I don't maintain the engines XYZ MRO does" and so on.
I think there is a slight difference here. Airlines own the aircraft, conduct and pay for the maintenance checks and pay for the pilot and other crew. Even if it's a wet or dry lease there is more of a connection with the equipment, crew and maintenence checks than a cab aggregator who just pools cars and makes them available.

Having said that, it's true that there is a huge disconnect between cab aggregators and the customer on the service front. From a customer perspective it's a trade off between the convenience / availability / price and these risks. Uber had promised on its Facebook page that they would be starting a customer contact centre shortly. That was 4 years ago.

Why should they when it will put them more into the red and hapless customers are anyway hailing their cabs even without that facility.

Last edited by AMG Power : 24th August 2019 at 13:53.
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Old 24th August 2019, 13:53   #15
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Default Re: Ola Cab catches fire in Delhi

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Originally Posted by AMG Power View Post
I think there is a slight difference here. Airlines own the aircraft, conduct and pay for the maintenance checks and pay for the pilot and other crew. Even if it's a wet or dry lease there is more of a connection with the equipment, crew and maintenence checks than a cab aggregator who just pools cars and makes them available.

Having said that, it's true that there is a huge disconnect between car aggregators and the customer on the service front. From a customer perspective it's a trade off between the convenience / availability / price and these risks. Uber had promised on its Facebook page that they would be starting a customer contact centre shortly. That was 4 years ago.

Why should they when it will put them more into the red and customers are hailing their cabs even without that facility.
What will you say about aggregators such as Make My Trip or Yatra.com or OYO?? When Jet Airways crumbled a lot of prospective flyers were left in the lurch with tickets booked a few days or weeks in advance. Most of them were re-imbursed their fares by Make My Trip even though the airline collapsing had nothing to do with them or in their control. Jet Airways, I know has not coughed up that money yet in the most part. I could give you a few more examples. If you wish to run a business to the strictest letter of the contract drafted by lawyers and then be shameful enough to hide behind it then either you are an uncaring monopoly or you are headed for trouble.

All transportation companies have or need to have safety as a core part of their service standard. Uber and Ola have a lot to learn. Out growing their cussedness towards customers would be a good starting point.

Let's agree to disagree and move on.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 24th August 2019 at 13:55.
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