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Zooming away from refunds

Amidst the rising need for the use of private vehicles, self-drive rental service Zoomcar is under fire for its lax attitude towards customer support, refunds and cancellations 

When people think of Zoomcar, the popular web-based car hiring service, they often think of a drive with scenic beauty and the windows rolled down. All this can be attributed to the promise of a hassle-free experience of hiring self-driven cars provided by the car rental company. 

This rather picturesque and breezy scenario, however, is far from the truth. One look at Zoomcar’s official Twitter handle and it becomes evident that all is not well with the way the company has been handling customer complaints, especially those regarding refunds of cancelled bookings and security deposits. 

On a daily basis, almost 50 fresh complaints can be found on the company’s Twitter page. Of these complaints, many are from exasperated customers who have been waiting for months for their refunds, while some are even threatening legal action against the company. All these tweets can be found with a cursory search on Twitter and one can also find the response that the company has ardently stuck to.

“We are working on it, we will ensure that the refund shall be processed as soon as possible,” these words can be found splashed all across the company’s account on Twitter in response to customer complaints.

This, however, is just the surface of the problem. Debarati Bhattacharjee, one such disgruntled customer, informs us that she had booked a vehicle using the services of Zoomcar for four days. But due to the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru, she had to cancel her booking. Post cancellation of her booking of 3-8 July, an email informing her that it would take 10 days to process the refund was shared by the company. 

However, “Till date, we have not received the refund, neither is there any way of reaching their customer care,” she says. “The only way to reach them is via emails, which get the same response as on Twitter” she adds. She also informs us that though she has used Zoomcar’s services in the past, there were no such problems. 

 Along similar lines, Rashim informs us that his two refund requests dating back to May are yet to be serviced. These are just two of the thousands of pending refund requests that can be found on Zoomcar’s official Twitter page. “Such a poor customer care @zoomcar, Its already been 7 days I am trying to connect, you guys never reply. where is my security deposit? it’s already 13 days since my booking completed. Do you have any plan to refund?” writes Deepak Kumar. 

Saurav Ashwani, another disgruntled user has tweeted, “Cancelled from your end due to non-availability of a vehicle on 7 June but the refund of Rs 10,584/- ain’t processed yet. It’s been more than a month. I have been chasing you for refund. Kindly initiate the refund asap”.

When the Patriot reached out to Zoomcar for their comments of the mounting complaints and allegations being levelled against them, they responded with a tweet saying, “We understand your disappointment here. It is a regret that we have to keep our customers waiting. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been facing certain internal issues, therefore, the unexpected delay in processing the refunds”. However, despite multiple attempts, we were unable to connect with their customer care services. This, it seems, has been a long-standing problem with the company. 

If one were to think that is because of the problems that have cropped up in times of a pandemic, think again. “Getting in touch with the customer support at Zoomcar has always been a tedious process, they do not have a direct line where people can file complaints or grievances,” says Saaransh Chowdhury, who has used Zoomcar’s services multiple times in the past. “Instead, when you try to reach their customer care services you are met with an automated response which does nothing to help. And finally, if you are lucky after a couple of days, the company might call you”,  

The situation is such that many customers have even threatened legal action against the company.

Started in 2013, the self-drive car rental company, headquartered in Bangalore was founded in by David Back and Greg Moran. As of April, the company operates in 45 cities across the country. As at a time when more and more people are opting to travel in private vehicles, Zoomcar’s rental and subscription model under which customers can subscribe to a vehicle on a monthly basis are some of the most viable options being available to the public.

Even for inter-city movement, people have been using the services of the rental services to ensure adherence to social distancing norms. In such a scenario the fiasco that is unfolding is shaking the faith of consumers in the popular services while leaving them without a viable alternative.