FAS asked taxi aggregators to explain price hikes

FAS asked taxi aggregators to explain price hikes

Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has asked taxi aggregators to clarify higher prices for rides in Moscow and Kazan, as well as to explain why rides for the same distances may have different prices depending on the type of mobile device. This is stated in a letter that the agency sent to Yandex.Taxi, DiDi, Citymobil and Gett taxis on Monday, January 31. A copy of the letter is available to Forbes.
The FAS said that the agency had received a request from Boris Chernyshov, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, in its letter. Mr Chernyshov was asked in the letter by the chairman of the State Duma Youth Parliament, Dmitriy Shatunov, to initiate an inspection of the deputy. In the letter Mr Shatunov has pointed out, citing data from Tinkoff Data analysts, that in 2022 the cost of taxi rides will increase by 24% compared to the average price in 2021. "According to the Moscow Department of Transport, at the end of November, the average bill in a taxi was 473 roubles, almost 24% more than in 2020," Shatunov's letter reads.
In addition, he suggested that major online aggregators determine a user's "type of electronic device" and, depending on the smartphone model, set a "dynamic price" for the trip. "The price for the same service may vary depending on the type of device from which the order and payment is made: the more expensive the device, the more expensive the service," Shatunov wrote.
The document also says that the Youth Parliament appealed to Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) with a proposal to regulate pricing discrimination legislatively: to ban the use of web analytics systems and introduce administrative responsibility for its use. Roskomnadzor agreed with the problem, Mr. Shatunov pointed out. But currently the legislation has not been amended, "the problem remains unresolved, and during public holidays it acquires greater magnitude," the letter follows. Mr Shatunov asked Mr Chernyshov to send a deputy request to the Federal Antimonopoly Service to check the increase in taxi prices during the New Year holidays, and to determine whether aggregators use "technological systems" to determine the model of the device from which the user orders a taxi.
The FAS gave aggregators 10 days from receipt of the letter to respond. The agency asked the aggregators to provide information on taxi trips in Moscow and Kazan in the period from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021, as well as in the period from 1 November 2021 to 31 January 2022. The FAS also asked for an explanation for "setting different prices for rides" depending on the type of mobile device from which a passenger places an order. A Forbes interlocutor at a taxi aggregator told Forbes that no aggregator uses technical means to find out the model of a passenger's mobile device. If the companies provide FAS with intentionally false information or fail to provide it in due time, the aggregators will face an administrative fine from 50,000 to 500,000 rubles, the FAS said in its letter.
Forbes was told by the FAS press service that they could not comment on the interdepartmental correspondence, but the issue of pricing of taxi aggregators is within the agency's attention, but in this market it is dynamic. The FAS can only intervene in the situation if antitrust law is breached, the press service said.
"Citymobil has not changed fares in Moscow or other cities where it operates, a company spokesman said. "The cost of all taxi rides through the service is formed using dynamic pricing algorithms, which are influenced by the volume of demand and supply at a particular moment in a particular territory, as well as the probability of making an order at the base fare," the company said.
Representatives of Yandex.Taxi and DiDi Taxi told Forbes that they have not yet received a letter from the FAS. The press services of Gett, Roskomnadzor and the State Duma have not responded to the request, nor has Mr Shatunov.
Taxi aggregators have already commented on the price hikes. Yandex told Kommersant newspaper that December is traditionally a high season for taxis. Because of the cold and snowfall in Moscow, cars are moving slower than usual, there are more traffic jams, so travel takes longer and costs more than usual, the company said. The organization Public Consumer Initiative told the newspaper that prices have risen by an average of 30-50% over the year, and in some cases doubled.
A Citymobil representative told Forbes that travel times increased in December because of traffic jams. "Demand for taxis during the peak days of December have increased by more than 30% compared to the same period in November," the company stated.


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