UPDATE 1-Colombia watchdog fines Rappi for double charges, lax liquor rules

·1 min read

(Adds statement from Rappi)

BOGOTA, March 21 (Reuters) - Colombia's consumer watchdog on Tuesday ruled in favor of fining Latin American delivery app Rappi of 1.245 billion Colombian pesos (around $260,000) for failed deliveries, double-charging customers and allowing alcohol to be sent to minors.

The decision follows an appeal from the SoftBank-backed startup, which surged into unicorn status in 2018.

"It was found that Rappi SAS violated consumer protection regulations related to quality of service by generating double charges to consumers, breaches in delivery and order cancellations," the SIC watchdog said in a statement.

It added that Rappi "did not implement the possible measures to verify the age of consumers at the time of delivery of products that are harmful to health, such as alcoholic beverages."

Later on Tuesday, Rappi issued a statement saying it would pay the fine. However, it highlighted that it acts as a platform, not as a seller and does respect local laws.

Rappi also noted it operates strict protocols regarding the sale of alcohol, saying customers are asked for identity documents when buying liquor on the app.

The Bogota-based delivery service, which operates in nine countries across Latin America, last year won regulatory approval to operate as a digital bank in Colombia. Its founders have also floated the idea of going public. ($1 = 4,801.3100 Colombian pesos) (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Sarah Morland and Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Richard Chang)