Uber admits misleading Australian riders, agrees to pay $19M

Uber has agreed to pay a $19 million fine in Australia for misleading riders by falsely warning they could be charged a cancellation fee and for inflating estimates of comparable taxi rides

Via AP news wire
Tuesday 26 April 2022 08:53
Australia Uber
Australia Uber

Uber agreed to pay a 26 million Australian dollar ($19 million) fine for misleading riders by falsely warning they could be charged a cancellation fee and for inflating estimates of comparable taxi rides, the ride share company and Australia’s consumer watchdog said Tuesday.

Uber B.V., a Netherlands subsidiary of the San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc., admitted breaching Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading statements in its app, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement.

The first offense stems from a free cancellation policy that allows a customer to cancel a booking at no cost up to five minutes after a driver has accepted the trip.

Between at least December 2017 and September 2021, more than 2 million Australian customers who attempted to cancel within that five-minute window were warned: “You may be charged a small fee since your driver is already on the way.”

The cancellation message has since changed to: “You won’t be charged a cancelation fee.”

“Uber admits it misled Australian users for a number of years and may have caused some of them to decide not to cancel their ride after receiving the cancellation warning,” Commission Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

Uber said in a statement almost all riders chose to cancel their trips despite the warnings.

The second offense related to estimated taxi fares provided by the app to Sydney customers between June 2018 and August 2020 when the taxi ride option was abandoned.

The algorithm used to calculate the fare ranges inflated the taxi estimates. The actual taxi fare was almost always cheaper than Uber’s lowest estimate.

Uber had not ensured the algorithm was accurate, the commission said.

Uber apologized for the taxi fare estimate “being higher than it should have.”

Uber said it cooperated with the commission and made changes to its platform based on concerns raised by investigators.

“We are committed to continually raising the bar — for ourselves, our industry and most importantly for the people who use our services,” Uber said.

Uber and the commission agreed to jointly ask the Federal Court to order the AU$26 million ($19 million) fine.

The maximum fine Uber could have faced is difficult to calculate because the penalties rose sharply during the time in question.

The maximum financial penalties under Consumer Law had been AU$1.1 million ($793,000) per breach.

They are now AU$10 million ($7.2 million), three times the value of the benefit received or 10% of annual turnover.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in