Uber ‘showing drivers and riders different fare estimates’, says lawsuit

For months, Uber drivers have been scratching their heads over “upfront pricing”.

The scheme is supposed to make clear to riders, before they even step foot in the car, how much they’ll wind up paying. When a rider uses Uber’s app to hail a ride, the app shows an estimate of what they’ll be charged.

But according to a proposed class action lawsuit, the fare shown to some riders is based on a longer, slower, and hence more expensive route than the one drivers see and are paid for.

Uber pockets “the difference charged to the User and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers,” according to the suit.

Uber’s done it intentionally, the suit alleges, by devising a “clever and sophisticated” scheme to manipulate the navigation data used to determine upfront rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver.

From the suit, filed in Los Angeles on April 3:

The software utilized in determining the upfront price is specifically designed to provide a route distance and time estimate based on traffic conditions and other variables but not to determine the shortest/quickest reasonable route based on those conditions.

Meanwhile, the software utilized in the driver’s application, which navigates the driver’s to the User’s destination, utilizes traffic conditions and other variables to provide the driver with a more efficient, shorter, or quicker route to the User’s destination, resulting in a lower fare payout to the driver.

The suit is on behalf of Uber driver Sophano Van and tens of thousands of other drivers in the US. It claims that Uber concocted and implemented the upfront pricing plan between June and September 2016.

It accuses Uber of breach of contract, unjust enrichment/restitution, fraud by concealment, unfair competition, independent contractor misclassification and failure to pay wages, and labor code violations.

From the suit, which called Uber’s upfront pricing software a “shocking example of an active, extensive, methodical scheme implemented worldwide specifically to defraud drivers”…

Specifically, the Uber Defendants deliberately manipulated the navigation data used in determining the fare amount paid by its users and the amount reported and paid to its drivers.

The lawsuit is anything but surprising. Uber drivers have long called upfront pricing a scam.

A sample comment on Uber People:

Jesusdrivesuber, Thursday at 3:16 PM
Yup, they finally got them.
Stay tuned for the X billion settlement.
Lol, I really do wonder who comes up with these bright ideas, TK the scam master or his minions?

…and from the comments on a YouTube video from @UberManYouTube (Randy Lee Shear):

The suit is looking for back pay and legal fees. It’s also demanding a halt to “the unlawful, deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair business practices”.

Image courtesy of Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock.com