Uber Could Owe You Money

If you’ve taken an Uber ride in the United States, the networked transportation giant could owe you some money.

Uber Technologies Inc. has agreed to pay $28.5 million back to riders to settle two class action suits, The Washington Post reported. The cases, Philliben v. Uber Technologies and Mena v. Uber Technologies, involve a “safe rides fee” that Uber charged users.

The fee was supposed to go for background checks for drivers, but the company did not check drivers’ fingerprints, nor did it check their names against the national sex offender registry. That means some bad people, including criminals and sex offenders, could have driving for Uber.

In return for the settlement, Uber will change the name of the safe rides fee to the booking fee. It will also drop such language as “safest ride on the road” and industry-leading background checks from its advertising, The Post reported. All U.S. Uber customers will be covered by the settlement, as will foreigners who used Uber in the U.S. between Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2016.

Do not expect to get a lot of money back though. The Post estimated that the average Uber customer will receive 82 cents. The money will be refunded to credit cards or Uber accounts.

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Uber Use Increasing

The timing of the settlement is suspect; it came just as Uber launched a major expansion and publicity blitz in the United States to coincide with a 15% rate cut. The cut has been successful in increasing Uber use: the service’s ridership increased by 21% in Queens, 33% in the Bronx, and 26% in Manhattan, The New York Post reported.

The same cuts have generated controversy, including threats of strikes by drivers in New York, and claims that some of its drivers are not waiting for fares. There’s no word on whether those drivers are planning to sue Uber or not, even though Uber lawsuits appear to be a growth industry in the United States.