In a classic case of chickens coming home to roost, Uber is suing its ride-hail rival Ola, claiming the company created fake account to book, and then cancel, hundreds of thousands of rides. Uber filed the lawsuit in the High Court of Delhi for injunction and damages, alleging that Ola created 90,000 fake Uber accounts using falsified phone numbers, which it used to book over 400,000 rides. The rides were ultimately canceled, which Uber claims was a move to frustrate its drivers.
Uber may have been able to recognize that particular brand of sabotage because the San Francisco-based ride-sharing giant has been accused of doing the same thing to its biggest stateside rival, Lyft. In 2014, Lyft claimed that Uber booked and then canceled over 5,000 rides with Lyft using hundreds of fake account that were traced to Uber recruiters. Uber also allegedly pulled the same stunt with black-car service Gett a few months before.
Uber’s troubles in India preceded this lawsuit. According to press reports, 62 Uber motorcycle taxis were confiscated recently, along with 24 vehicles from other operators in Bangalore, forcing both Uber and Ola to close up shop there. The confiscations were reportedly related to permitting issues. Also Uber isn’t the only company to accuse Ola of unethical business practices. Jugnoo, an auto rickshaw aggregator, claims that Ola was behind a surge of fake bookings, an accusation that Ola denies. The main difference, though, is that Jugnoo has not taken its beef with Ola to the courts. The case between Uber and Ola is scheduled to be heard in September of this year.
Uber declined to comment on the lawsuit against Ola. A spokesperson for Ola called the lawsuit “frivolous and false,” adding, “It is not beyond our imagination that this is an effort to divert attention from the current realities of the market where Uber has faced major setbacks including the recent incidents of Uber vehicles being seized by the government authorities.”