As if Uber didn't already have its share of problems, the battered company is now in a class action lawsuit, accused of manipulating how much the Uber driver is paid and how much an Uber passenger is charged for the same ride. According to the court documents, Uber is using a “methodical scheme” and they have “implemented [it] worldwide.” Uber’s software is showing a potential customer a longer, more expensive route on their smartphone when asking for a ride, but at the same time, the Uber driver’s screen is showing a shorter route so they can pay their driver less money. The Uber driver’s route is the correct one to use, and should show up as the same route on the requesting passenger’s device as well. However, with a longer, more expensive route on the passenger’s app, that is the amount Uber will collect from them, inflating the amount they should be charging.
Back in September 2016, Uber instituted a new system they called “upfront’ pricing, which allowed Uber to present the full price of the ride to a potential customer before they accepted the ride. The fees are based on a base fare plus a per-mileage and per-minute charge for the estimated distance and length of the time to travel that distance. If a driver accepts the ride from Uber, the driver is provided with the navigation instructions for the best route possible. However, the software used by Uber to determine these routes, gives a longer route to the rider and a shorter route to the driver and that causes the fee that Uber pays the driver to be substantially less. The class action suit is to help determine, among other things, “Whether the price discrepancy between the fare charged to Users and the fare reported and paid to drivers is based on a willful and intentional scheme to defraud drivers.”
Uber, while a great concept, is having their share of negative publicity in the past couple of months. Their SVP of Engineering Amit Singhal stepped down in February after Uber found out that he was accused of sexual harassment charges and failed to report it to Uber at the time he was hired. In March, Uber’s President Jeff Jones left after only six months with the company due to the number of problems that the company was facing that he knew nothing about when he was hired. Also last month, one of Uber’s self-driving cars was involved in a relatively serious crash in Arizona. Now, Uber is facing this new lawsuit for defrauding not only its customers, but its employees as well.