Technology

Uber will pay $28.5 million to settle two class-action lawsuits over safety claims

Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to roughly 25 million customers to settle two class-action lawsuits related to the way the company represented its background checks and the fees it charged passengers.

As part of the settlement, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, the San Francisco company will change the language of its safety-related advertising and stop using the term “Safe Ride Fee."

If the settlement is approved by a judge, the class — which includes anyone who took an Uber ride in the U.S. between Jan. 1, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2016 — will be notified via email and given the option to be paid by credit card or receive a credit to their rider account. The amount that individuals in the class will receive is not yet known.

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The company was sued in two separate cases by customers who alleged it misled them by advertising that Uber rides are “safer than a taxi” and that its background checks were “industry leading.”

The court filings said Uber made these claims in its marketing materials, despite its background check process not including fingerprints or requiring applicants to appear in person. In comparison, taxi regulators use fingerprint technology in their background checks.

The district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles filed similar lawsuits against the ride-hailing company in late 2014. Those cases are ongoing.

Uber has remained steadfast that its technology improves safety before, during and after rides by enabling drivers and passengers to know who they’re riding with. Rides booked through the Uber app are also tracked via GPS, and all passengers receive a digital record of the trip.

"However no means of transportation can ever be 100 percent safe,” the company said in a blog post Thursday. "We are glad to put these cases behind us and we will continue to invest in new technology and great customer services so that we can help improve safety in the cities we serve." 

Separately, Uber also announced Thursday a partnership with American Airlines at 11 U.S. airports. The partnership will offer passengers of both services rider and mileage promotions.

Twitter: @traceylien

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