Uber Technologies Inc. said it will pay $28.5 million to settle claims that a $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 $1 per trip, but the company has raised it to as much as $2.50 in some cities.

The $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 $10 billion in funding.
Driver Screening
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 $500,000 as part of a settlement.

The case is Philliben v. Uber Technologies Inc., 3:14- cv-05615, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco). The prosecutors’ case is California v. Uber Technologies Inc., CGC-14-543120, California Superior Court, San Francisco County.


–With assistance from Eric Newcomer.

This article was written by Joel Rosenblatt and Ellen Huet from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tags: safety, uber
Photo Credit: Uber's app for iOS devices in New York City. O Skift