It’s an icon that many click on without ever bothering to actually read what they are agreeing to. But with Uber facing the heat for the alleged rape of a woman in one of its cabs, the terms and conditions that it asks its customers to agree to online while utilising its services make for interesting reading.
There, the company absolves itself completely of all responsibility and liabilities arising out of the misconduct of drivers including situations that are “potentially unsafe, offensive”.
“Uber does not guarantee the suitability, safety or ability of third party providers. It is solely your responsibility to determine if a third party provider will meet your needs and expectations…. By using the services, you acknowledge that you may be exposed to situations involving third party providers that are potentially unsafe, offensive, harmful to minors, or otherwise objectionable,” says the user terms of Uber.
It’s not just Uber though, other operators too have fallen back on similar lines when it comes to liability.
Meru’s terms and condition states, “The Company shall not be liable / responsible for any illegal conduct of the Drivers of the Cabs. However, the Company recommends you to notify about any complaints that you may have against the Drivers of any Cab.”
But what’s really different in the case of Uber is that it is not an entity registered in India — it runs a business and generates revenue from the country without having a legal presence here. Also, the agreement that customers enter into while accepting the terms and conditions of Uber is with Uber B.V The Netherlands and Uber Technologies, Inc The United States. Even the bill generated by Uber is from UBER B.V.
Legal experts have offered differing opinions on Uber’s operations in India.
Sandeep Parekh of FinSec Law Advisors said there was nothing wrong with the company operating without being registered in India since they only have an App.
But another legal expert, who did not wish to be named, said that ideally the company should not be operating in such a manner and that this issue involves other jurisdictions too.
For customers who want to take legal action against Uber for lapses in service, the company’s terms and conditions state that one can file a case against the company in the jurisdiction of his/her place of residence but also clarifies that the total liability in connection with services for all damages shall not exceed $500 (Rs 30,000).
And in case of any arbitration, the arbitration will be administered by American Arbitration Association.
The RBI had earlier questioned the fact that Uber was not following the mandatory two-step security check for credit card transactions.
An RBI official told The Indian Express that when the transaction is between two entities (passenger and cab driver) based out of India then there was no reason for the money to go abroad as it involves forex transaction.
The company, however, has now begun to comply with the norms, said the RBI Deputy Governor H R Khan on Monday. “We had given time (to Uber) up to November 30 to come to the pre-paid wallet system, they wanted some extension. We said it is not possible… they have now fallen in line,” he said.