Ola Share: They say “Sharing is Caring” but they care enough to fool their customers

“What happens when company policies come in between the customer and company?”, one of our readers asked us on our Facebook Page. “The company know that they have fumbled and told their customer service operators to use this as their Ram Ban whenever in such situations”, was our reply. This is what we have seen in our experience over the years. When you call a customer service department, the first thing you hear is “This call may be recorded for quality and training purposes”, clearly indicating that you are on a recorded call. But, if you ask the operator to send you the transcript of the call, they will say it’s against the company policies.

This is the reason live chats, emails complaints and social media messages are becoming much more useful support desks than ever because everything is documented and accessible to the customer. No company policies there! The problem is: getting a response is as tough as getting darshan of bhagwan in Satyug. You have to meditate (keep writing) for years before one of them will reply and your wish may be heard/granted.

One such incident happened recently at Ola Cabs which made us realize that Why is Ola wasting money at its Customer Service Department if they have already decided that they are not going to listen to the customer? Following is a bitter experience narrated by our user which made us think of the whole “Sharing is Caring” funda and tall claims made by Ola.

Technology Speaks

My first experience of using a transportation service (point to point) was when I was in Pune to attend a meeting. I am not aware of the geography of Pune and had terrible time bargaining with auto drivers on my previous visits there. This time I decided to download an app – OLA on my phone and book a cab. After the signup: Ola detected my location, showed me all options near me in a map (showing exactly how far the drivers are). Once I selected the category of available cars and tapped “Book”, BAM! Driver is 2 mins away. All I had to do is walk downstairs, sit in the car and be on my way. No bargaining! Pre-defined rates, integration with google maps which will always show the shortest path – I was golden!

It so felt being in the SCI-FI movie back then when Kaali-Peeli were ruling charts (yes, I am from Mumbai)

One good experience led to another and before I knew it, I started using Ola Cabs for most of my travel needs. It felt nice. Slowly, I was able to count my commute as one of the amenities of the day.

How Ola Cabs think their technology works!

Carpool – Sharing is caring!

“Sharing is caring”, I have heard this zillion times. These technology startups in transport industry brought the proverb to life when they made carpooling as easy as tapping the button on your phone. Ola Cabs introduced Ola Share. It’s easy on pocket and, most importantly, wonderful for environment. People have also used it for socializing for work (a great side-effect).

The way technology has enriched our lives in past decade is so impactful that it’s even hard to imagine our life without technology anymore. I mean when I go to my office at Nariman Point every morning via public transport, there are another 1000s of people traveling in the same direction in my neighborhood. But, as they remain stranger to me, I won’t be carpooling (sharing a cab) with them. In comes Ola Share (I was already using their app). Now, all the strangers have one platform to find fellow commuters traveling in the same direction on their fingertips. Great!

Algorithms – The magic wand or magic wound?

I was always intrigued by the usage of technology in my personal life. So much so that I married to a Software Developer as well. One fine day, I asked him “How does Ola Share works?”. “Ideally, after getting the first passenger on board they get the travel itinerary (pick-up and drop location). If the new booking is in 2km radius of that itinerary, only then it would make sense for fellow commuters. So, this cab should be visible to people who are traveling in the same direction”, was his reply. And, what seemed to be like a magic wand started making sense.

Recently, though, when I booked my cab to go to my office (like I have been doing), I was in for a surprise, actually more like a rude shock. The magic wand was about to be turned into a wound which will make me ditch Ola forever. After boarding the cab, there was another booking and the two people inside the cab (another girl who usually travels to VT and I) were relieved that now we will be able to reach our offices in time. Only to our surprise, the third person came and lodged his drop at BKC which, even in your wildest dreams, doesn’t make any sense.

Why will I travel to BKC first (opposite direction altogether), then take a detour and go to South Mumbai. When I checked Google Maps (yes, technology is everywhere), it was a total of 2 hours (40 minutes to BKC, then 50 minutes from BKC to VT and finally 30 minutes from VT to Nariman Point). I just followed my instincts and asked the driver to end the journey as I decided to take a regular Kaali-peeli. To my dismay, he didn’t do that and as the trip was already paid, I didn’t get my money back either.

That day, these algorithms definitely felt more like a magic wound than a wand!

Customer Service – Call at your own risk

Agitated, I reached office and thought of complaining the whole incident to Ola Customer Service department thinking that they would understand and at least refund my Ola money. Ideally they should be reimbursing the my whole tariff today! After a few exchanges on their support desk, I got a message stating “We are sorry for the inconvenience. We have added Rs.10 in your Ola Money” (The pre-paid trip was Rs.254).

Until that moment, I was thinking of the whole incident as one of the off days for Ola, where technology goofed up but, at the end of the day, there are humans working in the organization who will understand the consumer’s plight. But, I was wrong! Even after understanding the whole incident the response was still – “We have added Rs.10 in your Ola Money!” That was pure ridiculous.

I took my last chance by calling them and explaining the whole incident twice – first to Sanjay Sarsar (probably a Jr. call operator) and then to his senior, Chandrakant Suroliya. (I am not sure if they use their original names). All they could say over the phone was “Yes madam, we understand that a drop location of BKC while you are traveling to Nariman Point doesn’t make any sense, but we can’t do anything about it” When I asked for the transcript of the call, they said “It’s against company policies to share the transcript”, because they knew that they have admitted that OLA SCREWED UP on the call! I have stopped using Ola Cabs since then. I had two takeaways from the whole episode:

  1. Technology should only boost our productivity not push us towards mental stress.
  2. There should be people who are running these companies and not robots.


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