Ola Electric

Take down tweets or face legal actions: Ola Electric to a customer

Ola Electric

Ola Electric threatened legal action against Balwant Singh, an Assam resident whose bike (driven by his son) was involved in an accident on March 26, over the latter’s tweets on the incident. The company demanded that Singh stop making “defamatory” statements about the company and its electric bike, and delete existing posts. The development was first reported by Moneycontrol. Singh’s son Reetam confirmed the development to Entrackr, and said that a response would be sent to Ola soon. 

“Ola Electric has only responded to the notice [initially sent by Singh] and its contents. Ola has not issued any notice,” a spokesperson for the company told Entrackr.

Ola Electric had argued in the aftermath of that incident that Reetam Singh was driving the bike above the legal speed limit of the country, and that their bike was not at fault in the incident. The company had released the bike’s telemetry data in a statement to the press, without first asking Singh.

Curiously, the company argued in its April 29 letter to Singh that Reetam’s right to informational privacy was essentially waived by the fact that his father had posted pictures of the former’s injuries and medical records. “Various sensitive personal data and information have been voluntarily shared by you on a publicly accessible social media platform,” the company said through its lawyers. “Once personal data is disclosed in the public domain, there cannot remain any reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy thereof.”

This argument essentially says that since Singh released his data publicly — something he was well within his rights to do — his right to privacy on other data held by Ola Electric is no longer valid. (Of course, the company also argued that the disclosure of that telemetry information did not amount to personal data, as it did not name Singh’s son in its statement.)

The company added in its letter that it was prepared — even as it appeared to tell Singh to delete his posts or potentially face consequences — that it was ready to hold discussions and settle the matter amicably.

This development raises the pitch to a whole new level in terms of  Ola Electric’s approach to issues, after being  beset by bike failures from reasons ranging from software bugs to battery explosions. Last month, the company recalled 1,441 scooters amid growing scrutiny from the government.

Reports of such incidents keep piling up, though. Just this week, a 65 year old was reportedly injured when an Ola bike, supposedly due to a software bug, went full speed in reverse.

One has to say that it takes a particularly effective bubble to make Ola Electric believe this approach will work to muzzle and stifle criticism. Besides the sheer foolishness of fighting every customer service battle in public, the firm is sending a very poor message to potential customers in terms of what to expect should things go south. 

Update (6:30pm): The headline and lead have been changed to reflect that the letter sent by Ola was a response, as opposed to a legal notice. 

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