Uber admits to cheating passengers in Australia; will pay a fine

The company and agency said on Tuesday that Uber had agreed to pay a A$26 million ($19 million) fine for misleading passengers in Australia by falsely warning them that they could be charged a cancellation fee and inflated estimates of similar taxi rides. Australian Consumer Protection.

Uber BV, the Dutch subsidiary of Uber Technologies Inc. , for breaching Australian consumer law by making false or misleading statements on its application, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.

The first violation stems from the free cancellation policy which allows the consumer to cancel the reservation for free for up to five minutes after the driver has accepted the ride.

Between December 2017 and at least September 2021, more than two million Australian customers who attempted to cancel in that five-minute window received a warning: “You will be charged a small fee because your driver is already on his way.”

The cancellation message has now been changed to: “You will not be charged for cancellation”.

“Uber acknowledges that it has misled Australian users for several years and may have caused some of them to decide not to cancel their ride after receiving a cancellation warning,” said committee chair Gina Kass-Gottlib.

Uber said nearly all passengers chose to cancel their rides despite the warning.

The second violation relates to the estimated taxi fare displayed by the app to users in Sydney between June 2018 and August 2020, when the option was abandoned.

The algorithm used to calculate the fare range inflated taxi estimates. The actual taxi fare has always been cheaper than Uber’s lowest estimate. The panel said Uber had failed to verify the accuracy of the algorithm.

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