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Grab Philippines slapped with fresh P9 million fine amid refund delays

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Monday announced another P9-million fine on transport network vehicle service (TNVS) provider Grab Philippines over its failure to refund customers over three years after the reimbursement order.

Broken down, the anti-trust watchdog imposed a P6-million fine on Grab Philippines for violating three separate orders for the company to return P25.45 million to its customers, based on a resolution dated February 2, 2023.

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.

Just last year the PCC gave 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 also fined Grab Philippines another P3 million for what it described as “incorrect and misleading information” in the compliance reports the company submitted involving the refund orders, as it said it completed the refund.

The firm was given a 60-day deadline to complete the refund from receipt of each order, but the PCC said the firm violated three separate orders as it only returned some 24.16% of the amount as of June 2021.

“It was only after the PCC issued a show-cause order in January 2022 when compliance to the refund order shot up to 73.80% as of April last year, but still short of the full refund that Grab had claimed,” the commission said in an emailed statement.

The PCC also ordered Grab to put in place an alternative refund mechanism to allow customers to claim remaining refunds.

In response, Grab Philippines said it was surprised by the decision, as the company had been “100% committed” to fulfilling the refunds.

“We are glad that the PCC has finally come to a decision on the disbursement mechanism for the remaining administrative fees — so we can put this matter to rest,” Grab said in their statement.

“At the same time, we are surprised at PCC’s decision to fine us — given that we’ve been proactively engaging with them for over a year with proposals for alternative mechanisms to disburse the remaining administrative fees,” it added.

The firm said it had also been proposing alternative mechanisms for paying the refunds, but the PCC decision was made without informing them of the matter.

“Nevertheless, we will implement the order of the PCC for Alternative Refund Mechanism as required by the PCC Order,” Grab Philippine said.

“As we have been forthcoming in explaining our legal position, and challenges to the PCC; and have been proactive in proposing alternative disbursement mechanisms, we will be evaluating our legal options regarding the P9M fine,” it added.

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. — DVM, GMA Integrated News