Grab accused of alleged unfair business practices favoring affiliated drivers in Indonesia

Photo: Grab / Facebook
Photo: Grab / Facebook

Those who have hailed a GrabCar recently may have engaged in small talk with the driver with the topic of conversation being that the ride-hailing company is making it easier for some drivers to get orders compared to others.

It’s a suspicion that may manifest in a potential legal scandal for Grab, as the Singapore-based app is under investigation by the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) after several drivers filed a formal complaint alleging unfair business practices.

The complaint, filed by a union of ride-hailing drivers in Medan, North Sumatra, alleges that Grab gave higher priority for orders to go to drivers who are employed by its business partner, PT Teknologi Pengangkutan Indonesia (TPI), over drivers who have signed up to Grab individually.

TPI leases cars to its drivers in return for a portion of their pay from Grab. Those categorized as independent Grab partner drivers generally own their own vehicles or are drivers for smaller car rental businesses.

In a hearing at KPPU yesterday, Grab, represented by celebrity lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea, denied the allegations. He said that the company does give priority to some drivers over others, but not because they’re employed by TPI, rather that there are different tiers of drivers based on their ratings.

“There is no discrimination if people are free to choose and they [the drivers] are not hampered in the business,” Hotman said during the hearing yesterday, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Hotman added that Grab prioritizing drivers does not have any negative impact to customers, so the issue should not fall under KPPU’s jurisdiction for investigation.

Nevertheless, the business watchdog, which has conducted a thorough investigation into the matter in several major cities, has formally accused Grab of several violations of the Law on Business Competition. It remains to be seen what sanctions, if any, Grab would be given should the company be found guilty of discriminatory practices toward its partner drivers.

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