Australian regulator seeks $19 mln penalty from Uber for misleading fares

After admitting to misleading consumers about ride fare estimates and cancellation penalties, Australia’s competition authority is suing Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) and seeking a A$26 million ($18.69 million) fine from the ride-hailing platform.

Uber confirmed to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Tuesday that it advised customers they will be charged costs for canceling rides between December 2017 and September 2021, even if the cancellation was requested during its “free cancellation period.”

“Uber concedes it deceived Australian consumers for years and may have prompted some of them to choose not to cancel their journey after getting the cancellation warning, even though they were allowed to do so free of charge under Uber’s own policy,” said ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

Uber also acknowledged to misrepresenting fare estimates for its Uber Taxi option, according to the ACCC, because its algorithm would nearly always exaggerate the range and the actual fare would be lower than the company’s cheapest estimate.

“Uber’s app’s deceptive information deprived users of the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not to take an Uber Taxi,” Cass-Gottlieb stated.

Uber claimed it had “worked to streamline our in-app notifications to make it clear exactly when cancellation charges will or will not apply, per occurrence, so that riders always have confidence” since the ACCC addressed the problem.

The ACCC and Uber are jointly seeking court judgments, including statements that the ride-hailing app violated Australian consumer law and penalties, according to the regulator.

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