Vehicle financing terms inferior to company marketing promises

The Federal Trade Commission flagged Uber providing drivers with financing terms inferior to what its marketing materials promised. The FTC said drivers received worse rates on average than consumers with similar credit scores would otherwise obtain. Uber further promised that its leases provided unlimited mileage, though there were actually mileage limits. Details in the FTC’s complaint.

Uber paid $20 million to settle these claims (along with claims about exaggerated annual and hourly earnings). The funds were used to provide refunds to affected drivers

Recruited drivers with exaggerated earnings claims

The Federal Trade Commission flagged Uber exaggerating the yearly and hourly income drivers could make in certain cities. For example, Uber claimed on its site that uberX drivers’ annual median income was more than $90,000 in New York and more than $74,000 in San Francisco — but the FTC found that the actual medians were $61,000 and $53,000 respectively, and that less than 10 percent of all drivers in those cities earned the amounts Uber touted.

The FTC also alleged that Uber made false hourly earnings claims in job listings on Craigslist and elsewhere. In eighteen different cities where Uber advertised hourly earnings on Craigslist, fewer than 30% of drivers earned the promised amount. In some cities, as few as 10% of drivers earned the promised amount. Details in the FTC’s complaint.

Uber paid $20 million to settle these claims (along with claims about vehicle financing terms). The funds were used to provide refunds to affected drivers.

3,000 cases in Miami against Uber drivers, totaling $3.2 million

The Miami Herald reports that Uber drivers have received more than 3,000 tickets and similar citations, totaling $3.2 million. One proposal would waive $1.4 million of that, though critics questioned why the fines should be reduced.

Police have also impounded at least 20 cars from Uber drivers.

Commissioner Dennis Moss said Uber “made a conscious decision to violate the rules” and should therefore pay the full penalty. Other critics noted Uber’s guidance to drivers about how to avoid getting caught by police.

Illegal lobbying by former Obama aide David Plouffe

David Plouffe, then Uber’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Strategy (formerly campaign manager for President Barack Obama) lobbied Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as to requirements for Uber’s operation in that city — but failed to register as a lobbyist as required by law until 90 business days later. In February 2017, Plouffe was fined $90,000 for the violation.

Guided by Plouffe, Emanuel advocated the policies that Uber favored. The Chicago Tribune explains: “When aldermen [Chicago legislators] pushing for the stronger rules, which included fingerprinting drivers, tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to delay the action, Emanuel threatened to adjourn the City Council meeting. In the end, the watered-down version Emanuel preferred remained intact.”

Plouffe’s email discussions with Emanuel were uncovered as part of a lawsuit as to Emanuel’s use of a personal email account to conduct government business.  In settling that lawsuit, Emanuel turned over about 2,700 pages of government-related emails from his personal account.   Plouffe’s email to Emanuel is dated November 20, 2015 – pages 127-129 in this archive.