A seven-member internal team was set up to investigate the drivers'
complaints in November, and its findings are the basis of a lawsuit
filed by Uber accusing Ola of a campaign to disrupt its business and
poach its drivers, said the source.
Ola, an Indian company backed by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp
<9984.T>, denies any wrongdoing.
Uber is suing Ola for $7.5 million to compensate for lost revenue
and goodwill, alleging the Indian market leader created about 94,000
fake user accounts with the ride-hailing service and used them to
make more than 405,000 false bookings.
The broad outlines of the lawsuit were reported when it was filed
last month, but a Reuters review of court filings and interviews
with sources close to both sides have uncovered new details about
how Uber says it was able to trace fake bookings and calls to Ola
employees, and Ola's response to the allegations.
It paints a picture of a no-holds-barred corporate battle between
the two start-ups in one of the world's fastest growing taxi
markets, where both have been burning millions of dollars of
investor money as they seek to undercut each other with cheaper
A source close to Ola said the case against it had been fabricated
in retaliation for a lawsuit it had filed earlier this year accusing
Uber of flouting a court order to switch to clean-fuel cars in the
Uber said it could not comment on a matter that was still before the
courts, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the
allegations made by either side.
SoftBank, one of Ola's largest investors, declined to comment on the
Uber's investigation identified locations and internet protocol
addresses of tens of thousands of users who had booked and canceled
rides, using information logged when a new customer account is
created on Uber's platform, the source familiar with the company's
In court documents, Uber says it found 660 accounts used to make
troublesome bookings came from a building housing Ola's office in
the western city of Pune. Most of the rest were created near Ola's
office in the tech hub Bengaluru, it said.
In the court filings, Uber said more than 23,000 of its drivers quit
due to "illegal and wrongful interference" between September 2015
and February 2016.
The source close to Ola said the company had made its own checks and
found no correlations in the thousands of data points submitted by
Uber in its complaint, which included names and mobile phone numbers
alleged to belong to Ola employees.
The data could have been compiled in a few hours using names,
business addresses and phone numbers linked to Ola that could be
looked up online, the source said.
The Delhi High Court has set a hearing on the latest case in
September. Ola's case against Uber is before the same court.
The backdrop to the legal sparring is a relentless price war between
Uber and Ola, who also offer competing incentives to lure drivers.
[to top of second column]
"The one which lasts the longest will eventually win and enjoy
monopoly power," said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint
Counterpoint estimates Uber's growth has outpaced Ola over the last
two years, when it doubled its market share to 26.5 percent. Ola,
however, still leads with 52 percent share.
LINKEDIN PROFILES, GOOGLE MAPS
Uber's legal submissions included several images of LinkedIn
profiles, locations pinpointed with Google Maps and hundreds of
phone numbers it said belonged to people associated with Ola.
Reuters called dozens of those numbers, but most were not
One number cited in court documents, from which 74 cancellations
were made, belonged to a user identified as Kisan Kumar.
When Reuters called the number, the person answering identified
himself as college student Shashank Kumar in Pune and said Kisan was
Shashank said he often used Uber and Ola but had not made repeated
cancellations on the Uber platform. Reuters was unable to contact
Kisan for comment.
Another number Reuters was able to connect to belonged to someone
identified as "Shiv D" in Uber's filings, which alleged he created
30 fake accounts to book and cancel dozens of rides.
Shiv D said he had worked for Ola helping drivers get new cars, but
denied Uber's allegations and said he had since left the company.
The fake bookings are not the only accusation leveled by Uber
Uber says one of its biggest losses of earnings came on New Year's
Eve, when drivers in New Delhi began getting calls around 5 p.m.
telling them to shut off the ride-hailing app as there was a
technical glitch that needed to be fixed.
When they checked back hours later to see if they could get back
online they were told Uber had made no such calls.
Uber says in the court documents its investigation traced the source
of the calls to two numbers registered in Ola's name. Reuters was
able to confirm by dialing that one of the numbers identified in the
documents was an Ola call center.
The source close to Ola denied it made the calls and said the
company's call center number was public information that Uber's team
could simply have looked up.
(Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Alex Richardson)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.