Transportation broker, Uber, now faces a class action related to “Safe Rides Fee” that company adds to every fare. Uber charges a $1 fee for every ride allegedly to subsidize the cost of “industry leading” background checks of drivers. According to a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco on December 24, 2014, Uber’s “Safe Rides Fee” is unfair and unenforceable because Uber’s background checks are no different than typical industry security checks. Cab companies usually require all drivers to undergo a background check and fingerprinting to confirm the identity of the drivers. Uber requires every driver to submit a name for a background check, but Uber does not require the driver to submit to fingerprinting to confirm the driver’s identity.
The class plaintiffs allege that drivers can circumvent the security and background check by submitting a false name. Without requiring drivers to provide fingerprints, Uber cannot determine whether the driver has provided an accurate name and identity. Prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles have recently filed civil actions against Uber alleging that Uber’s safety fees violate consumer protection laws and are misleading. Prosecutors filed a similar lawsuit against Uber’s competitor, Lyft, and settled for $250,000.
The December 24, 2014 class action comes on the heels of two other class actions against Uber in recent weeks. On December 3, 2014, passengers filed a class action over the $4 fee that Uber charges on fares to San Francisco International Airport. According to that class action, Uber advertises that the fee is necessary to reimburse drivers for the expense of entering the International Airport, but Uber allegedly pockets the fee rather than returning it to the drivers. Likewise, customers filed a similar class action in Boston, alleging that Uber overcharged for fares to Boston’s Logan International Airport.
The “Safe Rides Fee” class action seeks return of the $1 fee applied to every Uber fare provided in the U.S. Uber has provided approximately 140 million rides in 2014 globally.