Careem fined for providing 'faulty' service

KARACHI: A private ride-hailing cab service was fined with Rs50,000 by a consumer court on Monday for providing faulty service and causing mental distress to a consumer.

Careem Pakistan CEO Junaid Iqbal was directed to deposit Rs25,000 in fines with the court, pay Rs15,000 to the complainant for causing mental distress and Rs10,000 litigation fee. Judge Javed Ali Korejo gave the verdict on the complaint filed by a Careem user.

Iqbal was found guilty of providing faulty services in breach of Section 13 of Sindh Consumer Protection Act 2014. He was directed to pay the amounts within a month or risk one-month imprisonment which may be extended to three years or a fine of Rs50,000 or more, or both, according to Section 33(2) of the Act.

Complainant Advocate Mehmood Ahmed Khan stated in his complaint that he had booked a Careem cab on May 26 from Gulistan-e-Jauhar to Saadi Garden. Khan said he, some female guests and children were picked by a Careem captain, Mohsid Ahmed Lodhi, who ignored instructions and drove in a reckless manner. Instead of following Khan’s friends who were on a motorcycle, as Khan directed, the captain became annoyed at being repeatedly asked to follow the motorcycle and dropped the passengers abruptly in the middle of the road. Khan mentioned that the passengers were all fasting when the ride ended halfway. The driver also used insulting and vulgar language, he added.

Khan further said that he had lodged an online complaint with the company before approaching the court but he received no satisfactory response from the ride-hailing cab service’s management. They did not even reply to the legal notice he sent, said Khan.

The defendant’s counsel, advocate Altamash Faisal Arab argued that his client could not be held responsible for any act or omission on part of the careem captain, as the captain was an independent third party service provider which operated via the Careem platform. The counsel argued that the drivers were solely responsible for their acts and omissions. He prayed the court to dismiss the complaint as it was not maintainable.

Judge Korejo observed that Aleena Zainab Alavi, head of the defendant’s legal affairs department, had admitted that 25 per cent of the fare of each ride went to the company while the remaining 75 per cent is pocketed by the driver. According to the judge, the company thus falls within the category of ‘service provider’ and is not excluded from the definition of ‘services’ as stated under Section 2qi of Sindh Consumer Protection Act 2014.

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