13th April 2016

Uber to fork out millions for misleading safety claims

The controversial ride-sharing service Uber has had the rug pulled from under it yet again, after being ordered to pay $10m (£7m). A court in California, where the company’s headquarters are based, has ruled that it misled consumers with its false claims about its driver vetting process.

Back in 2014, Uber came under fire when attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles pointed out that public safety claims from the company were untrue. The service claimed that, when vetting new drivers, its standards and processes were better and safer than those used by traditional taxi firms. However, many firms check drivers’ fingerprints to uncover any past convictions – a practice Uber doesn’t do.

Constant controversy

Uber has since dropped claims from its public advertising, such as its rigorous background checks granting the company a “gold standard” in safety and the slogan: “safest drive on the road”. As these changes were required as part of the settlement, it doesn’t save the company from a multi-million dollar fine.

It’s certainly not the first time the booking app has come under scrutiny for recruiting drivers with historical criminal convictions and stories of passengers mistreated by Uber drivers around the world. The global spread of Uber has also sparked protests from local taxi drivers and firms in several major cities in recent years.

In light of this recent court ruling against the service, George Gascón, the San Francisco District Attorney, praised the result while criticising Uber’s methods to overtake the taxi market: “It sends a clear message to all business, and to startups in particular, that in the quest to quickly obtain market share, laws designed to protect consumers cannot be ignored.” He continued: “If a business acts like it is above the law, it will pay a heavy price.”

On top of the $10m fine already given, Uber faces further financial penalties of up to another $15m (£10.6m) if it doesn’t pay within 60 days.

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