Uber, with full exit from Singapore imminent, 'mistakenly' turns off app a day ahead of schedule

Uber drivers said they were told their vehicles were 'not allowed to operate in Singapore'—  Reuters pic
Uber drivers said they were told their vehicles were 'not allowed to operate in Singapore'— Reuters pic

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SINGAPORE, May 7 —  Ride-hailing service Uber, which will stop operating in Singapore at 11.59pm on Monday (May 7), has apologised for “mistakenly” turning off its app nearly a day ahead of schedule.

Several screenshots posted on social media by Uber drivers and riders showed that that the app was unavailable from as early as about 12.10am on Monday.

Affected Uber drivers said they were told their vehicle was “not allowed to operate in Singapore”, while riders who tried to make a booking were shown a screen devoid of Uber cars.

Uber sent an email apology to its users this afternoon, saying that the app had been turned back on after being “mistakenly made unavailable earlier”.

The US ride-hailing company added: “The Uber team apologises for the error and any inconvenience it may have caused. The app will be available through the end of today (May 7) in accordance with directions from the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS).”

TODAY has reached out to the competition watchdog for comments.

The CCCS is investigating Grab’s purchase of Uber’s operations in South-east Asia, and has issued interim directives to both companies to keep the ride-hailing market open and contestable.

The watchdog made no mention of the Uber service outage in its latest statement on the Grab-Uber deal.

But it disclosed that it had approved the appointment of financial and professional services firm Smith & Williamson to monitor Grab and Uber’s compliance with the interim directives.

“Anyone with feedback regarding possible non-compliance by the parties with the (interim directives), and more generally on the (Grab-Uber) transaction, should report to CCCS at [email protected],” the watchdog added.

Among the interim directives issued by the CCCS on April 13 include measures to protect drivers, such as making sure that Uber or new drivers who are joining Grab’s platform of their own accord are not subject to any exclusivity obligations, lock-in periods and/or termination fees.

Grab also has to ensure that these drivers are not penalised, directly or indirectly, as a result.

Uber’s app was initially due to stop running here on April 8. But the shutdown was extended twice - first to April 15 and then to May 7 - as the CCCS continued its investigation.

The CCCS had said that Uber is not obliged to extend its app after May 7 under the interim measures. Grab had also told TODAY that a small team handling issues related to Uber drivers and riders will also stop doing so after the May 7 deadline. — TODAY

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