A class-action lawsuit against taxi outfit Uber claims that the taxi outfit is running a “clever and sophisticated” scheme in which it manipulates navigation data used to determine ‘upfront’ rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver.
According to court documents, when a rider uses Uber’s app to hail a ride, the fare the app immediately shows to the passenger is based on a slower and longer route compared to the one displayed to the driver.
The software displays a quicker, shorter route for the driver. But the rider pays the higher fee, and the driver’s commission is paid from the cheaper, faster route, according to the lawsuit.
Uber implemented the so-called “upfront” pricing scheme in September and informed drivers that fares are calculated on a per-mile and per-minute charge for the estimated distance and time of a ride.
“However, the software that calculates the upfront price that is displayed and charged to the Users calculates the expected distance and time using a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver’s application,” according to the suit.
The rider pays a higher fee because the software calculates a longer route and displays that to the passenger. The driver does not even get any benefit because they are paid a lower rate based on a quicker route.
Uber trousers the difference charged to the User and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers.
Uber Technologies Chief Executive Travis Kalanick admitted that it was time for him to “grow up” and get help after a video was published showing him getting into a slanging match with one of his drivers who complained about pay rates.
Bloomberg published a video of Kalanick, a co-founder of the company, arguing with a driver who tells him that rates have been cut and he has lost money. The 40-year-old Kalanick responds angrily that some people don’t take responsibility for their own actions.
The video is the latest in a series of challenges and embarrassments for the ride service. The driver in a dash cam tells Kalanick, a passenger, that “people are not trusting you anymore,” and complains that rates for drivers have fallen.
Kalanick responds, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
In his statement released later Tuesday, Kalanick said he was ashamed for treating the driver disrespectfully, and he apologized to the driver and others.
“It’s clear this video reflects me – and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it,” he wrote.
A report said that software giant Microsoft has invested $100 million in taxi contender Uber.
Uber, which faces stiff inspection in various cities around the world has drawn the ire of car hire firms and traditional taxi cab outfits.
A report in US wire Bloomberg said that Uber will use the cash injection to launch its operations to more cities worldwide.
Uber is now valued at close to $50 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Last month Microsoft sold a share of its Bing mapping outfit to Uber and both companies have agreed to integrate Uber into Microsoft Cortana – a Siri like voice system that was rolled out along with Windows 10.
Uber already has a strong reach covering over 300 cities in over 50 countries worldwide.
Taxi drivers sowed traffic chaos in Europe’s top cities on Wednesday by mounting one of the biggest protests ever against a smartphone app.
Uber summons rides at the touch of a button and it is apparently unpopular with licensed cabbies because it is a big company and competes against them. Although it is a high tech option, the cabbies feel that it breaks local taxi rules, violates licensing and safety regulations and its drivers fail to comply with local insurance rules.
Uber claims that it is all because the taxi industry has not faced competition for decades and was seeing competition from companies such as Uber which was bringing choice to customers.
Uber says its minicabs arrive in five minutes in central London and its fares are 30 to 50 percent cheaper than a black cab.
Hundreds of licensed black taxis snarled traffic in the streets around Trafalgar Square in central London, hooting their horns as they passed Downing Street, home of Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Houses of Parliament.
In Paris, taxis slowed traffic on major arteries into the city during the morning commute. Hundreds choked the main road to Berlin’s historic centre while commuters packed buses and trains, or just walked, to get to work in Madrid and Barcelona.
The brains behind the BBC’s iPlayer Erik Huggers, is packing his bags and heading off to Intel at the end of next month.
Huggers was the BBC’s director of future, media and technology. While he was the key bloke who came up with the Aunty’s shift online, the iPlayer, W1, BBC North and Fabric and chairing the YouView consortium he will probably be best remembered for his expenses claims.
Huggers ran up a taxi bill of £638.73 in June 2009, a day after he had spent £538.45 on another taxi both charged to the corporation. In the final quarter of 2010 he managed to reduce his expenses bill and only charged £4,380.53 in the final quarter of 2010, compared with £5,010.52 in the previous three months.
As a hack who once managed to live, thanks to creative expenses, we can only tip our hat in awe at the master.
According to the Guardian, Huggers is off to Intel as the corporate vice-president and general manager of its digital home group, and will be based at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in California
His old job appears to between Ralph Rivera, will cover the BBC’s public-facing digital products such as the iPlayer and the technology division, headed up by John Linwood.
Expenses aside, the Beeb got good value for money from Huggers. The iPlayer was a huge success and a pretty good lump of technology. Huggers brought in Anthony Rose, as the BBC’s controller of vision and online media in 2007, who became a key lieutenant in revamping the iPlayer Aunty’s catch-up service reported a 27 per cent year-on-year lift in programme requests for December, to 145m.
Huggers was the driving force behind Project Canvas which will bring video-on-demand content to Freeview and Freesat.