California yellow cab drivers recently filed a lawsuit against Uber, the controversial taxi app firm, for making use of false advertising to promote its services as the safest in the taxi business. Plaintiffs allege that such claim seriously hinders fair competition and leaves many of them out of work.
According to the suit, Uber Technologies falsely claimed that their services were the safest rides on the road, safer even than a taxi, although the vast majority of its drivers are non-professional drivers who aren’t checked by a government agency for their criminal record.
Professional taxi drivers argued that they need to pass a fingerprinting test and get checked by the Department of Justice for criminal record before getting a license, while Uber drivers don’t. Although Uber claims that its drivers are background checked by independent third-parties, the process is less safe than the DOJ-run checks, plaintiffs claim.
Additionally, taxi drivers need to pass a written examination and attend safety training classes before entering the business. But Uber doesn’t impose such prerequisites to its partners.
So, claiming that Uber provides better services is deceptive advertising that seriously harms the taxi industry, said 19 taxi companies in the lawsuit filed Wednesday with a California federal court.
As a result, the taxi operators seek an injunction against Uber malice-based practices and undisclosed damages. Bell Cab, All Yellow Taxi, LA City Cab, and Cabco Yellow are just some of the California taxi companies that signed the complaint.
According to the complaint, yellow taxis compete with Uber over the same client pool, and basically fight for the same dollars. As a result, if clients learn that Uber taxies are both cheaper and safer than traditional ones, this could translate into dreadful consequences for the taxi industry.
Moreover, plaintiffs complained about Uber’s “safe rides fee”, an extra dollar for every ride that supposedly goes toward safety features and driver checks. Taxi companies said Wednesday that the safety fee falsely reassure clients that they would have the safest ride possible.
Eva Behrend, spokesperson for Uber described the Calif. lawsuit as both “frivolous” and “without merit.” She also argued that Uber drivers need to pass “multi-layered” background checks, while the rating system and traceability of the online platform customers use to get in touch with drivers make things incredibly transparent.
However, Uber was repeatedly involved in other lawsuits due to its unfair business practices. In the recent years, the company was blamed that its employees ordered thousands of rides just to cancel them later as a means of wasting the time of taxi drivers and obstruct clients from securing a cab. Other practices involved bribing rookie taxi drivers into joining the company.
Until now, Uber claimed that it was fighting for a fairer world where all people could have access to flexible jobs which had been monopolized by an outdated industry for far too long. But, currently, there are some clues that all the new jobs may be a decoy that will result in more people getting jobless when Uber will introduce self-driving cars.
On February 2, the company announced that it funded Carnegie Mellon University to open a robotics research center that would focus on vehicle safety, mapping, and “autonomy technology.”