Grab denies anti-competitive practices amidst US$2m fine by Indonesian authority

Grab Indonesia said it has not violated any regulation, engaged in any anti-competitive business practices, or injured any third parties, in the course of its partnership with rental partner Teknologi Pengangkutan Indonesia (TPI). This came after Indonesia's Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) fined Grab and TPI US$2.1 million and US$1.03 million respectively for allegedly discriminating against its driver-partners, The Jakarta Post reported.

According to The Jakarta Post, Grab was found by the KPPU to have prioritised the orders of drivers affiliated with TPI in Greater Jakarta, South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Medan, Surabaya, and Makassar. As a result, there was a drop in the number of orders for non-TPI drivers, the media report said.

KPPU said that the discriminatory practice by both parties has led to "monopoly practices and unfair business competition for non-TPI partners and individual partners," The Jakarta Post reported. The commission also said that both companies have violated Law No.5/1999 which concerns the prohibition of monopolistic practices and unfair business competition.

In a statement to Marketing Interactive, Grab's spokesperson said there is no preferential treatment given to driver-partners who are registered with TPI. If Grab driver-partners registered with TPI consistently provide quality service to passengers, they would be equally entitled to the same benefit programmes as all other driver-partners who are registered with other fleet companies, the spokesperson said.

He added that Grab has always believed in providing equal economic opportunities for all its driver-partners. "Our booking system is fair and purely based on performance and merit, as Grab aims to maintain a positive and respectful user environment for everyone," the spokesperson said. The company has various driver benefits programmes to promote and encourage quality service amongst its driver-partners. They include productive booking for those who perform well, to reward all eligible driver-partners who have consistently been rated highly by passengers.

Additionally, the partnership with TPI was established with the simple goal of benefiting all its driver-partners through ease of access to vehicles. "We know that many of our driver-partners would like to be onboarded on the Grab platform to earn an honest living, but do not own a car. Hence, we partnered with TPI to facilitate driver-partners’ access to cost-effective car rental services so that they can continue to earn a living like many others," the spokesperson said.

Based on these factors, Grab's spokesperson said it will continue to strongly protect its brand and reputation against "the unsubstantiated allegations that were made by KPPU. With this matter of principle in mind, we will appeal against KPPU’s decision in due course according to prevailing regulation.

Last year, Grab was also fined in Malaysia for allegedly "abused its dominant position" by imposing "restrictive clauses" on its drivers. The clauses reportedly prevented Grab drivers from offering and promoting advertising services to its competitors and the transit media advertising market, media reports previously said. Grab Malaysia maintained that it complied fully with the Competition Act 2010 and was surprised by the RM86.8 million fine proposed by the Malaysian Competition Commission for allegedly breaching the act.

Meanwhile, Grab recently cut about 360 of its employees and sunset non-core projects. It also created a talent directory for individuals impacted by the layoffs.

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