Uber Has To Pay Back All Those "Safe Ride" Fees

The city's least popular company probably owes you cash.

By Marty Patail February 15, 2016

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Image: Mark Warner

If you took an Uber between January 1, 2013 and January 31, 2016, you could be getting some money back. The ride-sharing company is settling two class-action lawsuits, requiring it to refund about $28 million the company collected in "safe ride" fees.

Before you start planning an early retirement, keep in mind the average payout is going to be very, very small.  Uber will split that $28 million among 25 million people, leaving you with little more than a symbolic slice of the pie. 

Still, the settlement is a small victory for transparency. For the past two years, Uber has tacked on "Safe Ride" fees to every trip—the exact amount varied according to location, but in Portland it was $1. The purpose was ostensibly to offset the costs of screening drivers and cars, but the lawsuits accused Uber of misleading riders by overstating how rigorous these checks actually are. For instance, Uber did not check new drivers against the national sex offender database or collect fingerprints.

Will this mean Uber rides will be cheaper in the future? Sorry. Uber simply has to rename the "safe ride" fee something less reassuring, like "booking fees."

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