Australian regulator accuses Uber of cheating customers and demands more than $18 million in fines

Australian regulator accuses Uber of cheating customers and demands more than $18 million in fines

The Australian antitrust regulator has accused the Uber service of defrauding consumers and has filed a federal court in the country with a request to fine the American company for $18.7 million, according to a statement from the State Commission for the Protection of Competition and Consumer Rights, released on Tuesday.

As the regulator pointed out, Uber regularly "violated Australian consumer protection law by making false or misleading claims about taxi fares and cancellation fees." "From December 2017 to September 2021, the Uber app displayed a message about charging a cancellation fee, <...> even if users canceled the service within the first five minutes after booking, that is, during the period when they could, according to the rules of the service do it for free," the statement said.

According to the state commission, more than 2 million Australian users of the company suffered from illegal actions of Uber. "The service acknowledged that it was misleading customers and likely forced some of them to make the trip anyway in order to avoid paying for the cancellation they were entitled to under Uber's policy," Gina Kass-Gotlieb, chairwoman of the ACCC, said in a statement.

In addition, the regulator said that for two years, the Uber app incorrectly displayed the estimated range of the cost of the trip. “The algorithm used to calculate fares inflated taxi fares and the cost of a ride—offered to users as the lowest cost was almost always higher than the actual one. Uber admitted that it did not evaluate the performance of the algorithm and was not convinced of its accuracy, <…> which deprived consumers opportunity to make an informed decision on the choice of a taxi service,” said the head of the commission, emphasizing that all digital platforms, including Uber, “should take adequate measures to control the accuracy of their algorithms and messages that affect consumer choice.”

The Federal Court of Australia will soon review the Uber lawsuit and decide whether the A$26 million ($18.7 million) fine requested by the regulator is an adequate and sufficient punishment for these offences.

Uber is a popular online car transportation service that allows you to use the services of private car drivers through an application on your mobile phone. The company, headquartered in San Francisco, California, was founded by entrepreneurs Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009. Uber now operates in dozens of countries.

Photo:, Natalia Seliverstova / RIA Novosti

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