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PCC gives Grab one month to release ‘unclaimed’ P19.3 million to passengers

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has given ride-hailing firm Grab Philippines a month to release some P19.3-million worth of refunds to eligible users, as it found that less than a fourth of the total amount has been claimed by passengers as of June 2021.

The competition watchdog said a review of the compliance reports for previous penalties found that Grab passengers have only claimed 24.1% or P6.15 million out of the total P25.45 million penalties that the PCC ordered to be returned to Grab users.

The PCC gave Grab until April 22 to refund the remaining amount which it said should be immediately credited through the GrabPay Wallets without requiring any act from the users to be able to claim.

“The ride-hailing app required additional steps for passengers to claim the fund, contributing to the low uptake,” the watchdog said in an emailed statement.

For its part, Grab Philippines said it remains “fully committed” to complying and working with the PCC to “exhaust all possible measures” to ensure that eligible passengers receive the fees.

“Grab Philippines has complied with the disbursement order of the PCC, and has disbursed the full administrative fee in a manner consistent with the agreed mechanics with the PCC,” it said in a separate emailed statement.

“Eligible passengers must redeem their portion of the fine through the GrabRewards Catalog within the Grab App,” it added.

The firm noted, however, that users will have to complete the know-your-customer (KYC) process for them to be able to receive the amount on their GrabPay Wallet accounts.

"Grab cannot credit their GrabPay Wallet without completion of basic KYC as this is a regulatory requirement of the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas),” it explained.

Grab also said it has yet to receive the final decision of the PCC on its recommendations for customers eligible for the refund lacking the mandatory KYC, but will continue working with the watchdog.

To recall, the PCC ordered Grab to refund P5.05 million for overcharges and P14.15 million for violation of voluntary commitments in 2019, and P6.25 million due to pricing issues in 2020.

“The penalties are in the form of a refund to remind Grab that every pricing or booking violation committed against passengers shall be paid back to passengers. Grab should immediately release the refunds and continue to adhere to its commitments,” PCC chairperson Arsenio Balisacan said in the same statement.

As part of its takeover of then-rival Uber Technologies in 2018, Grab made voluntary commitments which cover pricing, fare transparency, service quality, and improvements, among others.

“The PCC remains steadfast in monitoring Grab’s commitments to temper the firm’s dominance in the ride-hailing market. These measures are in place to prevent Grab from exercising monopolistic behavior due to its unchallenged market power,” Balisacan said.

“Through the years, the commitment measures are meant to be temporary in disciplining Grab while waiting for the market to mature with new major players. A more permanent pro-competition solution here is to open the market to more Transport Network Companies that can truly rival Grab on the same level,” he added.—AOL, GMA News