Australia's consumer watchdog has promised to scrutinise the use of taxi booking apps after cracking down on a taxi company that blocked drivers from accepting bookings via mobile phone and app.
The news follows an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that heard allegations Townsville Taxis was breaching competition law by restricting its drivers from using third-party taxi booking apps and mobile phones to accept fares.
According to the ACCC, Townsville Taxis was allegedly only providing booking services to drivers "on condition" that they wouldn't acquire bookings "through the use of third party booking applications" from competitors, in this case, goCatch.
After Townsville Taxis acknowledged that its conduct was "likely" in breach of the Competition Act, the company is now required to inform drivers that they are free to lawfully use booking apps.
Speaking about the matter, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said it is "extremely important services that new technological services, such as third party booking applications, are not unlawfully restricted in their ability to compete with established taxi booking services".
Sims said the ACCC would continue to monitor behaviour in the taxi sector, particularly in relation to third-party taxi booking apps, to ensure competition is maintained.