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Uber settles claims its 'safe rides fee' misled passengers
[SAN FRANCISCO] Uber Technologies Inc. said it will pay US$28.5 million to settle claims that a US$1 "safe rides fee" charged to riders was misleading because its background checks on drivers aren't as rigorous as the company advertised.
The company said in a statement it will now call the charge a "booking fee" to resolve class-action lawsuits on behalf of riders in several states. The accord couldn't be immediately verified in court records.
Uber is still fighting allegations by California prosecutors that it gives the public false assurances that its rides are safe.
Uber introduced the "safe rides fee" in April 2014 to cover costs such as background checks, insurance and vehicle checks. The fee started at US$1 per trip, but the company has raised it to as much as US$2.50 in some cities.
The US$28.5 million settlement will be split evenly among about 25 million riders after attorneys' fees, according to the statement. Uber has raised more than US$10 billion in funding.
The company declined to say whether it conferred about the settlement with the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles who filed a consumer protection suit against the company in 2014. The prosecutors alleged that the company touted driver screening that went beyond local requirements to justify the safety fee, when in fact taxi drivers by law undergo more comprehensive background checks that include fingerprinting.
Lyft Inc resolved claims by the California prosecutors in 2014 over the language it used to describe the safety of its services and agreed to pay US$500,000 as part of a settlement.