Ride-hailing service Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to more than 25 million customers, and rename its so-called “safe ride fee” in order to settle a class-action lawsuit that the company misled consumers about its “industry leading” safety procedures.
The Associated Press reports that Uber agreed to the settlement, filed on Thursday in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, to resolve a class-action lawsuit filed in 2014.
The lawsuit, filed by two passengers, questioned whether Uber misrepresented the level of scrutiny it uses when recruiting drivers, who must pass background checks conducted through a third-party service.
Uber, which uses an outside private firm called Hirease to screen prospective nonprofessional drivers, characterizes its practices as “industry-leading” on its website, but the suit claimed that simply wasn’t the case, and that the company did not use the same kind of fingerprinting checks required of taxi drivers.
Under the settlement, which must still be approved by a judge, Uber will provide refunds to consumers who took rides with the service in the U.S. between Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2016.
Additionally, the company will rename the “safe ride fee” as a “booking fee.” The company previously stated that the charge would go toward funding background checks, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, and insurance.
Initially, the “safe ride fee” was a $1 charge, but in October 2015, the company changed the amount depending on where a customer lived.
Uber told the AP on Thursday that it believes its technology does provide important safety features, like GPS tracking and sharing driver identification and license plate numbers before a passenger gets in the car.
“However no means of transportation can ever be 100% safe. Accidents and incidents do happen,” Uber said. “That’s why it’s important to ensure that the language we use to describe safety at Uber is clear and precise.”
Still, the company says it’s happy to put the case behind it and to “continue to invest in new technology and great customer services so that we can help improve safety in the cities we serve.”
This is just one safety-related lawsuit Uber is facing: in December 2014, the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles counties filed a suit against the company contending that it was in violation of California law for its alleged mischaracterization of the extent to which it vets its drivers.
Those cases are still pending.
Uber to pay $28.5M to settle claims company misled customers on safety [The Associated Press]