MANILA – The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Monday said transportation network firm Grab has not yet released some PHP19.3 million worth of refund to eligible  subscribers as a form of penalty due to its previous competition violations.
 
The PCC said of the total PHP25.45 million refund since 2019, Grab has released PHP6.15 million, or only 24 percent, as of June 15, 2021.
 
In 2018, the PCC penalized Grab a total of PHP63.7 million for violating its voluntary commitments following its acquisition of Uber’s operation in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.
 
Grab then has vowed to ensure not to undertake unreasonable pricing after merging with its biggest competitor here. 
 
However, extraordinary pricing deviations were observed following the transaction, prompting the PCC to penalize the ride-hailing app operator.
 
“The penalties are in the form of a refund to remind Grab that every pricing or booking violation committed against passengers shall be paid back to passengers. Grab should immediately release the refunds and continue to adhere to its commitments,” PCC chair Arsenio Balisacan said.
 
The anti-trust body ordered Grab to issue a refund worth PHP5.05 million in November 2019, PHP14.15 million in December 2019, and PHP6.25 million in October 2020.
 
The PCC also found out that the ride-hailing app requires additional steps for its users to claim the refund, which contributed to the low disbursement of the refund.
 
The agency said the refund should be automatically reflected on users’ GrabPay Wallet “without requiring any act from the users to claim the amount”.
 
“The PCC remains steadfast in monitoring Grab’s commitments to temper the firm’s dominance in the ride-hailing market. These measures are in place to prevent Grab from exercising monopolistic behavior due to its unchallenged market power,” Balisacan added.
 
Due to the remaining competition concerns, the PCC said Grab’s commitments were updated and monitoring was extended until next year.
 
“Through the years, the commitment measures are meant to be temporary in disciplining Grab while waiting for the market to mature with new major players. A more permanent pro-competition solution here is to open the market to more transport network companies that can truly rival Grab on the same level,” the PCC chief added.
 
The PCC has ordered Grab to fully release the remaining refund by April 22. (PNA)