FACUA presents a host of complaints against Cabify to the five autonomous communities in which it operates

The association considers the company to be violating both consumer protection legislation and that which governs travel agencies.

FACUA presents a host of complaints against Cabify to the five autonomous communities in which it operates

FACUA-Consumers in Action has presented a host of complaints against Cabify to the five autonomous communities of Spain in which it operates, on the understanding that the company is violating both consumer protection legislation and that which regulates travel and tourism agencies.

Over the past few months, the association has raised a series of issues with Cabify regarding their contract terms, in hope that they act to resolve them. The company has this week fixed a number of the problems, but has failed to resolve those FACUA deems the most serious. For this reason, the association has proceeded to file complaints with the organisations responsible for ensuring that companies comply with the legislation that Cabify is also subject to.

FACUA believes that Cabify's Spanish branch's (Maxi Mobility Spain SL) contractual conditions leave its users defenceless in the event that something out of the ordinary should happen, such as drivers being late or not turning up, tariffs exceeding the price offered at the point of booking, vehicle quality or performance being inadequate, or injuries sustained due to accidents.

This Friday, complaints stating that Cabify may have breached consumer protection legislation were submitted to consumer authorities in Andalusia, Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia and Galicia. FACUA has also filed a separate complaint with Madrid's Department for Tourism, where Maxi Mobility Spain SL is based. Within Spain, Cabify currently operates in A Coruña, Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Seville and Valencia.

A "travel agency" neglecting its responsibilities

The company states in its "General Conditions of Use" that it operates within Spain as a "travel agency", and is registered as such. However, FACUA states that within this same document, the company highlights that it only "acts as an intermediary" and operates subject to, among other regulations, Spanish Law 34/2002, passed on 11th July, on Information Society Services and Electronic Commerce (LSSI, according to its initials in Spanish).

In the complaints submitted, FACUA highlights that if Cabify were governed by LSSI law, the company could try to cover itself using the specific liability framework employed by this regulation in order to avoid having to respond to customers for any kind of damage or harm arising in connection with the services it offers. However, the truth is that the nature of services offered by these types of platform prevent them from being considered information society service providers, as a 2017 European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling against Uber stated.

Masquerading as a mere intermediary

Cabify supposedly acts as a mere intermediary, evading its responsibilities as a travel agency and acting as though it were doing nothing more than putting a customer in contact with a company, so that they may contract their services. The truth, however, is that when you make a booking on Cabify's app, all of the hiring and payment is carried out directly with this company, without you even being notified as to who holds the personal hire vehicle (PHV) operator's licence; therefore who the professional carrying out the service works for. Evidently, FACUA realises that if it weren't for Cabify, customers couldn't, or would have trouble dealing directly with the PHV licence holders who provide services through Maxi Mobility Spain SL.

In section 8 of the company's Terms and Conditions regarding their liability, Cabify states that "the final provision of the transportation service shall remain at the discretion of the third party driver" and that "the user agrees that Cabify has no responsibility to you related to any obligation, complaint or damage arising as a result of services provided to you by a third party driver".

Consumer and travel agency legislation

FACUA believes that in operating in this way, the multinational corporation is in breach of both consumer legislation, and that which governs travel agencies in Spain. The 99/1996 Decree of 27th June, which regulates the activity of travel agencies operating within the Community of Madrid lays out in article 22 that such agencies are "obliged to provide their clients with all services contracted with the stipulated conditions and characteristics". The association argues in the complaints put forward that Cabify cannot, therefore, absolve itself of responsibility to its customers, if any irregularity should arise in the use of their services.

Where consumer defence legislation is concerned, both national law and that of the autonomous communities in Spain consider the application of abusive clauses in contracts to be an infraction. And Cabify's attempt to rid itself of all responsibility for any breach in terms and conditions regarding the services it provides could constitute an abusive clause in that it generates "an important imbalance to the parties' rights and obligations" argues FACUA in the complaints.