Uber is using "sophisticated" software to defraud drivers and passengers

Do you believe "upfront pricing" is a scam?

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  • No!


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BurgerTiime

Well-Known Member
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...cated-software-to-defraud-drivers-passengers/



Uber has devised 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 a proposed class-action lawsuit against the ride-hailing app.

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.

"Specifically, the Uber Defendants deliberately manipulated the navigation data used in determining the fare amount paid by its users and the amount reported and paid to its drivers," according to the suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles. Lawyers representing a Los Angeles driver for Uber, Sophano Van, said the programming was "shocking, "methodical," and "extensive."

The suit (PDF), which labeled the implementation of Uber's technology as a "well-planned scheme to deceive drivers and users," is one of a number of lawsuits targeting the San Francisco-based company. The suits range from disputes over drivers' employment rights to sex discrimination to trade-secrets theft. Just weeks ago, Uber's CEO, Travis Kalanick, declared that he needed "leadership help."


This latest lawsuit claims that 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 utilizing a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver’s application," according to the suit.

Software manipulation
In the end, the rider pays a higher fee because the software calculates a longer route and displays that to the passenger. Yet the driver is paid a lower rate based on a quicker route, according to the suit. Uber keeps "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," according to the suit.

The manipulation of prices between the amount charged to Users and the amount reported to drivers is clever and sophisticated. The software utilized in determining the upfront price is specifically designed to provide a route distance and time estimate based on traffic conditions and other variables but not to determine the shortest/quickest reasonable route based on those conditions. Meanwhile, the software utilized in the driver’s application, which navigates the drivers to the User’s destination, utilizes traffic conditions and other variables to provide the driver with a more efficient, shorter, or quicker route to the User’s destination, resulting in a lower fare payout to the driver.

The suit claims breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, and unfair competition. The suit seeks back pay and legal fees, and it demands a halt to "the unlawful, deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair business practices."

Uber did not immediately respond for comment.
 

FL_Dex

Well-Known Member
I have say...you guys called this weeks ago. There have been numerous comments and threads here about upfront pricing being a scam. Some of the same observations in the lawsuit were discussed here, including the pax route being different.

When you learn to screen out all the corporate troll crap, there is a lot of amazing insight here.
 

Jermin8r89

Well-Known Member
Anyone just gonna quit work and tell the government to shove it! How about paying your own debt america!

Stop driveing for uber! Let the sheeple figure stuff out
 

uberdriverfornow

Well-Known Member
Incentives don't count towards fraud.
Not sure what the point is here.

I have say...you guys called this weeks ago. There have been numerous comments and threads here about upfront pricing being a scam. Some of the same observations in the lawsuit were discussed here, including the pax route being different.

When you learn to screen out all the corporate troll crap, there is a lot of amazing insight here.
For those following me I agree that upfront pricing is a scam and said so in the other lawsuit's thread. I just don't agree with the logic in this lawsuit.
 

JSM0713

Well-Known Member
Lol, I really do wonder who comes up with these bright ideas, TK the scam master or his minions?
Uber's minions are incentivised to come up with these schemes. This is yet another example of TK's manipulative nature. This BS all flows from the very top of Uber's pecking order.
 

Michael - Cleveland

Well-Known Member
http://nypost.com/2017/04/07/uber-h...-both-riders-and-drivers/?preview_id=10858840
Uber has allegedly been cheating both riders and drivers
NY POST By Chris Smith, BGR April 7, 2017

Uber has a lot of spring cleaning to do, considering the many distinct scandals it has to deal with. And things aren’t looking up for the “taxi” company, as a new lawsuit brings up an astonishing new claim. Apparently, Uber uses a “sophisticated” software that allows it to cheat on both the driver and the passenger.

According to the new class action suit filed by Ars Technica, Uber’s software manipulates navigation data used to determine the “upfront” fare price, showing the customer a higher price than the driver.

This way, Uber can charge the rider more for a fare, while the driver gets paid from the cheaper, faster route.

What allegedly happens is that the customers are shown certain routes when hailing an Uber. But that route is slower and longer than what the driver sees.

“The manipulation of prices between the amount charged to Users and the amount reported to drivers is clever and sophisticated,” the suit alleges.

“The software utilized in determining the upfront price is specifically designed to provide a route distance and time estimate based on traffic conditions and other variables but not to determine the shortest/quickest reasonable route based on those conditions.”

However, the software apparently comes up with a better route which the driver gets to see.

“Meanwhile, the software utilized in the driver’s application, which navigates the drivers to the User’s destination, utilizes traffic conditions and other variables to provide the driver with a more efficient, shorter, or quicker route to the User’s destination, resulting in a lower fare payout to the driver.”

A second benefit would be that the driver would get to pick a new fare faster with such a feature in place.

Uber’s “upfront” pricing scheme was introduced in September. At the time, the company informed drivers that the algorithm takes into account distance and time to calculate a fare.

The suit further claims that the driver is paid the lower rate and Uber gets to keep “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.”

If any of this is true, the implications are enormous, and could further escalate conflicts between drivers and the company. Not to mention that Uber clients won’t be too happy to learn the company has been cheating on them for a while now.

For those following me I agree that upfront pricing is a scam and said so in the other lawsuit's thread. I just don't agree with the logic in this lawsuit.
The real scam here, of course, is about Uber over-charging the rider (not under paying us - we're getting paid exactly the sucky fare we agreed to).

I don't know about others, but I very rarely use the GPS directions to take a rider from pick-up to destination. I know my city well enough that I just drive the fastest way I know how (unless it's an XL/SELECT surge of 3x or more - then I'm perfectly happy to sit in traffic or take the longer GPS directed route - at $1+/min, hehe). More often than not, I ask the rider if they have a preferred route - and if they do, I'll take that unless they clearly have no clue what they are talking about.

The good thing about the lawsuits is that through the discovery process Uber will have to show that it is either charging the rider correctly for the actual time & miles or pocketing the difference between the estimate and the actual fare. If it is discovered that Uber is pocketing the difference, I don't think that Uber not sharing that theft with drivers will be an issue.
 
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d0n

Well-Known Member
There is nothing sophisticated about looking at direct trip (fastest) estimates from waze or google maps and charging upfront only when taken, -estimate miles- < -driven miles- = No upfront.
 

nameless313

Active Member
yes passangers as well should be upset, how do you NOT feel cheated as a driver?? they are charging the passanger more and they take OVER 50% of your fare on non freeway drives. i absolutely feel cheated. they advertise 28%, booking fee here is 2.65, and then take another 22% on most of my fares that i do absolutely ALL of the work for, everything, every single expense is MINE and they help themselves to half of what i make without telling me. they are giving themselves surge profits without paying us for that.

the next big one will be that they are shaving mileage and minutes from our fares. ive watched this closely, my rides will calculate on my car and phone at 8.2 miles and they pay for 7 miles. sometimes even 6 depending on drop off points. A 26.7 mile ride on your gps route, and car, and they pay you for 25 miles. IT IS ALMOST NEVER ACCURATE, AND IT IS ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT GPS WILL SHOW OR DEAD EVEN, this is how you can clearly see the skimming, because it doesn't fluctuate both ways, just under.

i posted 2 threads about how to report the upfront pricing to ftc in hopes that we would together get justice.there has been movement from others as well to exploit this, im happy to see some progress on upfront fares, but its uber and this is literally what they do professionally, so they will never have a consequence that outweighs their profits. if that was at all a possibility they wouldn't do it.

after they have already probably made billions off of our backs they will pay a few million, and the next one you should all be looking for... same rides, same rates... but we get less and less for the fares... its called skimming. which they will continue to do to everyone for more profits.
 

Michael - Cleveland

Well-Known Member
There is nothing sophisticated about looking at direct trip (fastest) estimates from waze or google maps and charging upfront only when taken, -estimate miles- < -driven miles- = No upfront.
Fastest is not always cheapest. A trip from downtown here to the eastern suburbs is about 9 miles taking the surface roads - but can be 40 minutes, while taking the highway is about 10 minutes faster - but twice the miles. In Uberworld, miles cost more than minutes. I ignore the uber-selected route and ask the pax which route they prefer.
 

supra_driven

Active Member
Rider just yesterday asked me why it was twice as much for the same ride in the afternoon as it was in the morning. There was no surge or boost. I told him the amount of the fare from my perspective and we quickly figured out Uber is doing something very shady. He was charged $44.00 while I received $16.5. The fare total was $22.03. Big difference!
 

RussellP

Well-Known Member
I took 2 Uber rides as a pax this week (first time ever). Uber's upfront pricing told me the ride was $9.89. I said OK and ordered.

The ride ended up being 3.76 miles and 8 minutes. Our rate here is $1/mi and $0.15/min. There was no surge (I confirmed on both apps)

8 x 0.15 = $1.20
3.76mi x $1 = $3.76
Base Fare = $1
Booking Fee = $1.50
Total: $7.46
Difference: -$2.43

I didnt ask the driver to check, but I'm sure he got paid normal pay... So he would have gotten
Base Fare $1
Time $1.20
Miles $3.76
Total: $5.96
Uber Fee: $1.19 or $1.49
Driver Pay: $4.77 or $4.47

I inquired to Uber about the overcharge. Here's the response:
Sorry for any confusion and happy to explain, Russell.


When you select your vehicle option, the price displayed in the app at the beginning of the trip is the fare you'll be charged for the ride. These fares are calculated dynamically, based on your pickup and drop off locations. Please note that your upfront fare price will include any higher rates that come into effect when demand is high. I can confirm that you were correctly charged the amount shown when the ride was requested, so you should be all set.


Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and feel free to reach out any time in the future.
I then requested a breakdown of the fare as they saw it:
Hi Russell,


We have reviewed this trip. The fare you were charged is within our estimate for a trip from your pickup location to destination. As a result, the fare was not adjusted.


Here is your fare breakdown:-


Base Fare $1.00

Distance (Miles)3.76 mi * $1.00 - $3.76

Time 08:01 * $0.15 - $1.20

Booking Fee - $1.50

Surge x1.0 - $0.00

Rounding Down - $0.00

Upfront Fare Adjustment - $2.43

Total Fare - $9.89


That being said, we appreciate you taking the time to let us know there was an issue with this drop-off on this trip. Feedback like this help us improve the Uber trip experience.
After further pressing the issue:

Thanks for the follow up, Russell.


We'd be happy to have another look into this for you.


We can confirm that this fare is correct and within the estimates for a trip from your pick up at 181 Payne Rd, Scarborough, ME 04074, USA to your drop off at 364 Maine Mall Rd, South Portland, ME 04106, US . All of our fare estimates are always given in a range format as external factors such as traffic, road works and traffic lights/diversions can effect the trip fare.


If you prefer your driver to take a specific route, feel free to let them know. We're confident that they'd happily accept.


We realise that personal knowledge of the city while factoring in current driving conditions can often lead to more efficient routes than our app, so that's why we let riders and drivers decide on the final route taken.


Please let us know if we can help with anything else.
Later in the day I took the same trip in the reverse direction. My upfront fare was again calculated at $9.89. This time after the trip started, I changed the destination address by 1 house number and submitted. They ended up charging me $9.86 for that ride. That ride came up as 3.5 miles and 9 minutes. I opened a ticket on that trip as well...

Thanks for getting in touch, Russell.


When you select your vehicle option, the price displayed in the app at the beginning of the trip is the fare you'll be charged for the ride. These fares are calculated dynamically, based on your pickup and drop off locations. Please note that your upfront fare price will include any higher rates that come into effect when demand is high. I can confirm that you were correctly charged the amount shown when the ride was requested, so you should be all set.


Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and feel free to reach out any time in the future.
In my case it was a short trip but Uber's estimate was over by 32%. This probably adds up to billions of dollars each month. The net result is that Uber is taking more than 50% of the fare for themselves in many cases.

I then proceeded to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commision (FTC)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

I would encourage you all to do the same. Uber has published rates for mileage and time, yet passengers are frequently charged more than the published rate. All was fine until they released Upfront pricing, which they claimed was to make it easier on the passengers. They failed to mention that passengers would need to pay a 30% premium from now on.

We need to demand that Uber either charge the passengers correctly, and they owe all the drivers out there 75 to 80% of all the overages they collected on our behalf. Uber is only entitled to 20-25% of the fare plus booking fee.

Rise Up
 

Michael - Cleveland

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the great examples, explanations and follow through with both Uber and the FTC!
Uber is only entitled to 20-25% of the fare plus booking fee.
Correction: Uber is only entitled to a % of the fare (base, miles, minutes) from drivers. They are 'entitled' to 100% of whatever else they want to charge the rider that the rider has agreed to (like the booking fee or a quoted flat rate price for the trip).

The whole thing smells like two week old dead fish. It's nothing short of a deceptive fare policy and I hope that Uber gets pounded for this practice in court. It shouldn't be difficult to prove that the waybill the driver gets does not match the way bill the rider gets... and I *think* that's illegal.
 
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nameless313

Active Member
here you go, my step by step to file ftc complaint. it is extremely simple and took like 2 minutes.

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

1. You go there. This is the official ftc site.
2. File complaint under "making money, jobs", under this tab I selected business opportunities. (there are a few that are relevant)
3. Next tab I click that " I initiated contact"
4. Next tab, I guestimated what their cut has been of my earning this year in this tab. Which was about 25,000 to my knowledge.
5. Next tab is company info, I used the green light location in Michigan for the company location and "uber" for everything else in company fields.
5. Next tab is contact info. I used my real name and Phone number address etc.
6." Additional details" I detailed how upfront pricing is not a real fixed percentage to us as we agreed to, which in my case is 72% of all fares. That the real fares was always more than what they show on our app and customers pay a higher price that is hidden from us. And that they control the app completely and hide this real price from us.
7. That was it! If this helps it was well with it, in detail, step by step for you guys!!

I totally feel it was worth it. please if anyone has anything to add or something that may help others fill this out easier please post!!
 
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