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PCC studying if 'defects' in Grab refund to customers warrant additional fines

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Monday said it is studying whether or not the “defects” in the compliance of Grab Philippines on its ordered refund would warrant further fines from the antitrust agency.

According to PCC Assistant Director Lianne Ivy Medina, the agency is now taking into account the progress of the ordered refund and the reasons being cited by Grab for the difficulty in complying.

“The Commission is now considering whether or not the circumstances or the reasons for which those refunds were not actually fully paid to the consumers could merit another fine to be imposed on Grab,” she said in a briefing in Quezon City.

“I would not say non-compliance, but there was a defect on the way they complied, such that a portion was not fully refunded to the consumers,” she added.

To recall, the PCC ordered Grab to 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.

Just last year, the PCC gave a Grab 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 for refund was claimed by passengers as of June 2021.

The PCC on Monday said Grab has already refunded some 70% of the total amount, while some 30% or some P6 million have yet to be refunded.

“Meron kasing portion na hindi nila ma-comply (There are portions that they cannot comply) and they’ve given reasons for it and so now, before the Commission, that that issue is now being brought up,” PCC chairperson Michael Aguinaldo said.

Among the reasons cited by Grab were difficulties on crediting the amount to the GrabPay Wallet of customers eligible for the refund, as some of them do not have such accounts.

Grab last year said that users who do not have GrabPay wallets will have to complete the know-your-customer (KYC) process for them to be able to receive the refunds.

“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.

Aguinaldo said the PCC is taking these into consideration, as he said the agency also recognizes that some of the refund amounts are also small and that refunding costs could even be higher.

In a statement, Grab Philippines said it remains “fully committed to complying with its undertakings and commitments with the PCC, and doing right by its stakeholders – especially its millions of users.”

It added that, to date, Grab has successfully disbursed 73% of the administrative fee, and continues to proactively work with the PCC to exhaust all possible measures towards the full depletion of the remaining 27% administrative fee.

It further said that through its engagements with the PCC, Grab Philippines has provided the PCC a set of disbursement options, and is presently awaiting the latter’s decision so that the chosen option can be implemented immediately.

“Grab Philippines maintains utmost willingness and eagerness to work with the new Commission to fully resolve this matter at the soonest possible time,” it said.—AOL, GMA Integrated News