• UberPeople.NET - Independent community of rideshare drivers. It's FREE to be a person and enjoy all the benefits of membership. JOIN US! CLICK HERE

SFO Fines Out of Control?

GypsyJoker

Active Member
Uber drivers say SFO tickets unfair

By Carolyn Said


Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle
Uber driver Mustafa Ayubi waits in the San Francisco International Airport ride-hail lot with his car, which displays an Uber decal.


Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle
Mustafa Ayubi say he has been cited for not having proper identification on his car, which carries the Uber decal and an airport permit.

It happens over and over, he says. Uber emails him about a ticket he received from SFO for a violation, such as not displaying the Uber logo. The $100 fine, a big chunk of his daily earnings, is subtracted from his wages with no way to appeal.

That’s the situation reported by Mustafa Ayubi of San Ramon — and plenty of other Uber drivers.

San Francisco International Airport requires Uber and Lyft to pay any traffic tickets incurred by their drivers, relieving the airport of the hassle of tracking down payments and guaranteeing it will get the money. Lyft covers the cost of tickets. Uber pays the tickets and deducts them from drivers’ earnings. Many drivers say that deprives them of due process. Often they don’t even know about the ticket until they’re notified several months later.

“You can’t do anything; you can’t fight back,” said Ayuba, who drives 10 to 12 hours a day to support his wife and three children. He’s been slapped with $100 airport fines three times for lacking “trade dress” (a legal term for the distinctive physical appearance of a commercial brand) even though he said he has Uber’s vinyl decals on his Toyota Camry’s front and back windshields, plus his Uber SFO permit in the front.

He tried to appeal. He went to Uber’s Greenlight Hub in Daly City, a kind of Apple Genius Bar for drivers. “They said the only way to protest is to say you were not using the Uber app,” he said. “That would mean I have to lie. I won’t do that.”

The money adds up. SFO billed Uber and Lyft $1.74 million in administrative fines last year for 16,617 violations by drivers, largely for lacking trade dress, not displaying an SFO placard, or parking outside designated ride-hailing lots. Of those, 10,026 were for Uber drivers, 6,576 for Lyft and 15 for Wingz, a service that exclusively provides airport rides.

SFO said the system makes sense, because Uber and Lyft have operating permits from the airport and are therefore responsible for ensuring that drivers play by the rules. It said the companies must initiate any appeals.

“Issuing fines to (Uber and Lyft) increases compliance and gives them an incentive to correct behavior,” SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said in an email.

SFO used to issue lots of tickets for drivers who waited in the public cell phone lot, instead of the designated ride-hail lot, for example. Uber and Lyft responded by blocking drivers from receiving ride requests in that lot, which squelched the behavior. That was “a good resolution that would not have been possible if the companies were not in touch with the source of infractions,” Yakel said.

SFO’s ground transportation compliance officers and San Francisco police can spot Uber and Lyft cars, even without decals, thanks to an app SFO developed and shares with other airports that lets officers check license plates to see if the cars are registered with Uber or Lyft.

But many drivers say the practice smacks of a setup, with them as the patsies.

“It’s a collusive arrangement,” said Zakhary Mallett, a former Bay Area Uber driver and former BART District 7 representative, who received SFO tickets for lacking trade dress and parking in the wrong location. He received a notice in July about something that happened in April. “It’s a way for (SFO) to easily get revenue.”

“With parking violations, you’re supposed to have an administrative hearing and be able to escalate to the courts if you want,” Mallett said. “They are voiding the opportunity to protest. It’s a constitutional question; I’m being violated of my due rights.” He’s considering finding an attorney to sue over the issue. Most Uber drivers have agreed to mandatory arbitration, which means any disputes must be settled individually, but a suit against SFO and the city could be done as a class action.

Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings, who studies gig worker issues, agreed that the practice appears to violate due process.

“The drivers often do not even know when they are ticketed until the amount is subtracted from their wages,” she said in an email. “They have no opportunity to contest it. Some drivers I have talked to say that they believe they were wrongfully ticketed. The airport obviously benefits from this arrangement. They get an influx of revenue from the tickets.”

Uber said it hopes to get the system changed.

“Uber shares the drivers’ concerns regarding the fairness of this process, and we plan to share our view directly with the airport,” spokesman Davis White said. “Drivers deserve a transparent and fair way to resolve citations.”

Lyft covers the full cost of the SFO tickets and then “helps drivers comply with regulations at SFO through written communications and support at driver hubs and on the ground,” spokesman Campbell Matthews said in a statement. “While our approach changes with each airport, our priority has been to ensure all drivers at SFO have the information necessary to best be in compliance with regulations and continue earning at the airport.”

SFO isn’t the only airport with this arrangement. SherpaShare, which helps on-demand drivers track their earnings, surveyed drivers about airport tickets and heard from drivers in Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis; New York (LaGuardia); Philadelphia; and Phoenix that they’d incurred airport tickets that were deducted from their earnings.

Oakland International Airport fines Uber and Lyft and does not directly fine the drivers, a spokeswoman said.

Surveyed drivers who took a hit on their earnings from tickets said they would have contested the citation if they could, and feel the practice is unjust.

“It seems like the driver should be able to participate in the conversation around any citation, especially one that could potentially cost them a whole day’s pay,” said Jen Israel, a SherpaShare spokeswoman. “I appreciate SFO wanting a swift resolution to issues that clog up airport roadways and pickup points, but they should find a way to hold the company accountable separate from the individual, so they maintain the same rights as the rest of us.”

Another due process issue for drivers is that the airport tickets don’t include any evidence, such as photos.

“When the police give you a ticket, they say, ‘Sign here’ and give you a copy,” said Issam Hazboun of San Bruno. “But the airport, it doesn’t give nothing, no picture or proof.”

Hazboun said he gets new decals from Uber and Lyft every six months because the sun bleaches them out. Still, he’s racked up five or six airport citations for lacking trade dress.

“If you were a customer, would you come to my car without a sticker?” he asked. “No! If a customer doesn’t see a sticker on my car, he won’t come. Those people in the airport, they are just using this to make extra money.”

Likewise Scott Wallace of Los Gatos was cited for lacking a rear placard. But his Honda Odyssey has a standard factory tint on the rear window, which could have made it difficult to see the Uber logo, he said.

And there was a considerable lag time. “I received the notice last month but the ticket was written four months ago,” Wallace said. “It said, you’re out $100, we got a ticket we’re paying for you.”

Meanwhile Ayubi, the San Ramon driver, said he’s looking for other work. Besides the SFO tickets, he’s been getting ones in the city for other issues, like double-parking.

“It’s not worth it anymore,” he said. “I have to put new tires on twice a year, change the oil all the time and other expenses — plus all these tickets.”

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

“They have no opportunity to contest it. Some drivers ... believe were wrongfully ticketed.”
Veena Dubal, UC Hastings
 

dnlbaboof

Well-Known Member
so they have an app that can tell by your LP whether or not youre an uber driver, so if youre offline pick up a friend at sfo youll get a ticket and cant defend yourself...lol sfo is a mess.
 

uber87j

Well-Known Member
Major violation of due process. Perhaps the federal government should fine SFO for violating our constitutional right to due process.
Does anyone smell a class action lawsuit brewing?
 
Last edited:

BJ22

Well-Known Member
Exactly..... SF is become corrupt af. This is just the beginning.... they need revenue for the "Poop Patrol"
 

Da Ub

Well-Known Member
It is a violation of due process.

That being said, about 25% of the drivers which are dropping off and picking up are really out of compliance. It’s these 25% which causes problems for the rest of us.

I have been driving for both Uber and Lyft for 3 years and not had an issue.
 

uber87j

Well-Known Member
It is a violation of due process.

That being said, about 25% of the drivers which are dropping off and picking up are really out of compliance. It’s these 25% which causes problems for the rest of us.

I have been driving for both Uber and Lyft for 3 years and not had an issue.
All drivers need to play by the rules and display their trade dress, but tickets should be issued and HANDED to violators, not deducted from their accounts months later.
 

Grand Lake

Well-Known Member
SOLUTION: if you are driving for Uber and making a pickup, only display your airport placard and Lyft trade dress. If Lyft pays the fines and doesn't seek reimbursement, that's the way to go.
You think they pay fines for drivers who aren't on Lyft trips at the time of the violation?
 

Da Ub

Well-Known Member
All drivers need to play by the rules and display their trade dress, but tickets should be issued and HANDED to violators, not deducted from their accounts months later.
I agreed on that. They should receive a ticket in hand at the time of the infraction and not months later.
 

NorCalPhil

Well-Known Member
You think they pay fines for drivers who aren't on Lyft trips at the time of the violation?
Who knows? The transparency is quite opaque. How are they getting the license plates numbers of those working for Uber? Or Lyft? Do the companies supply them, or is the airport recording every license plate showing trade dress? Do the companies deny the ticket if they don't have a matching ride with that license plate at the time? Its a cluster of suck.
 

Yomann

Well-Known Member
The black jacketed SFO compliance officers take a picture of your license plate and send a citation to TNC's.
Stay far away from them - if you see one keep on moving down the line.
 

Dhr94080

Well-Known Member
You know....... back in March I came onto this forum complaining that I had received multiple citations from the airport that were bogus! EVERYONE on here flicked me sh*t and said I was guilty! It even broke out into a message argument! NOW, I read drivers complaining and crying about all the unjust tickets they have received? HAHAHAHAHAHA poor BA*TARDS! Listen, I received three back to back tickets back in Oct of 2017. I didn't get notified of these citations (At least one of the citations) until March! I was PISSED to say the least because that was my whole days wage. So, after my Uber forum battle, I protested against Uber by not signing online for 3 months. Then, I thought, well, maybe I will just cover these ticket and be done with it and move on.... YEEEAAAAAhhhhh......

I did three back to back long distant services which exceeded the amount owed! I had $151 owed to me after that. When I went to cash it out, the app wouldn't let me. When I called I got know where and ended up going to the hub. Mysteriously they popped up with three more tickets all issued the same day! No notification, no DUE process for contesting them, no evidence was supplied to me. Basically I was told to go to hell and pay it! I even offered to pull my video files for the date and time their ticket claimed I violated the rules of the airport. (I have kept a video log of every single ride I have ever done over the last 4 years on my server at home! They declined to speak to me after I offered my defence in the matter and right in front of every one at the hub, I through my Uber Stickers and permit at them and yelled out to the people waiting in line ( DONT SIGN UP. LOOSING YOUR CAR AND MONEY IS NOT WORTH IT) It took them 3 weeks and me harassing them to cancel my driver and passenger account with them!

I said it last March, and I will say it again, IT IS FRICKEN ILLEGAL TO CITE SOMEONE WITHOUT CIVIL COURT DUE PROCESS!
 

The Gift of Fish

Well-Known Member
4 years of driving in and out of SFO, never got a ticket there and I don't even use a rear trade dress emblem. The secret? If you see a traffic official, i.e. the ones who give out tickets, don't stop near them. It's not difficult.
 

lighthouse

Well-Known Member
4 years of driving in and out of SFO, never got a ticket there and I don't even use a rear trade dress emblem. The secret? If you see a traffic official, i.e. the ones who give out tickets, don't stop near them. It's not difficult.
Sadly they blend in ! I have been doing the same thing but sometimes , it’s just a dude with a tie on or the guys in black clothes.
 

The Gift of Fish

Well-Known Member
Sadly they blend in ! I have been doing the same thing but sometimes , it’s just a dude with a tie on or the guys in black clothes.
My point exactly. Who travels by plane wearing a tie? This ain't the '50s. Watch for anyone wearing work clothes or anything that looks like a uniform.
 
Top