How to offer mobility as a service? The Consumer Ombudsman examined the terms and conditions of the Whim app

MaaS Global offering the Whim mobility service has updated their service terms in June 2019 after negotiations with the Customer Ombudsman. The Consumer Ombudsman required that the terms and conditions have to include information on the responsibility of the platform and on the consequences of any defects. 

With the Whim mobility service, a consumer can use a mobile phone to combine different modes of mobility. The app combines public transport, city bikes, taxis, car sharing and car rental in the Capital Region. Services can be used either as a monthly subscription or by buying individual services as needed. The developer of the service, MaaS Global Oy from Finland, states that they are the first Mobility as a Service (MaaS) company in the world. 

The Consumer Ombudsman has required that the terms and conditions of the Whim app have to be updated to include provisions on the responsibilities of the platform and the various transport service providers as well as on the defects of the service and their consequences. In addition, information shall be given on the principles for making changes to the terms and conditions and on how the changes will be communicated to consumers. 

“When new kinds of services are launched, it is important to ensure that we remain on the right track in terms of consumer rights. Platforms have become increasingly common in the last few years, and new ways of using the platforms appear all the time. Whim is a good example of this, and we are happy to see that the terms and conditions for using the app are now in good condition,” explains Katri Väänänen, Consumer Ombudsman. 

Liability for defects also applies to the platform 

According to the renewed terms and conditions, MaaS Global as the maintainer of the platform is responsible for the functioning of the Whim app in accordance with the service terms and the information provided in marketing. Moreover, the company is responsible for ensuring that the transport services included in the app are available as promised. 

In addition to the Whim service terms, the terms and conditions as well as the timetables of the providers of various transport services, such as HSL (Helsinki Regional Transport Authority), are applied. Each service provider is responsible for the service they provide according to their own terms and conditions, following the current legislation for different modes of transport. An example of a defect in the Whim service is when a customer has bought a monthly HSL ticket through the Whim app but the app does not supply the ticket and the consumer must buy a single ticket from HSL. 

If the services provided by the transport service providers change, it may entail changes in the Whim service as well. It is also possible that a part of the service is discontinued. MaaS Global shall inform consumers of any significant changes in the service well in advance. If consumers so wish, they can end their current subscription before the change comes into effect. 

Irrespective of the nature of the Whim service, the usual liability for defects and damages of consumer services is applied. According to the terms and conditions, there is a defect in the service if it does not correspond to the information provided on it and to what has been agreed upon or promised in marketing. 

MaaS Global shall rectify the defect without delay at their own expense or, if that is not possible, grant the consumer a price reduction corresponding in value to the defect. The company is also responsible for direct or consequential bodily injury and material damage. For consequential damage, the responsibility is only applied when the defect or loss is caused by the negligence or intent of MaaS Global.