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Australia Fines Uber $14 Million For Misleading On Fares And Cancellation Fees

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Uber Technologies Inc. was fined A$21 million ($14 million) by an Australian court on Wednesday for threatening cancellation fees it never applied and inflating the cost of certain rides. The fine was lower than the regulator desired. According to the Federal Court, the Australian division of the US ride-sharing app violated consumer law by giving customers false notices that they would be charged for canceling some rides from 2017 to 2021 and by using an unreliable software algorithm to calculate prices for a taxi service it provided up until August 2020.

In a statement published on its website, Uber said it offered its sincere apologies to Australians “for the mistakes we made, and we have since actively made changes to our platform based on the concerns raised with us.” According to the written decision of Judge Michael Hugh O’Bryan, Uber distorted demand for its service by providing false information on its mobile app, which “would be expected to lead a proportion of consumers to alter their decision and not proceed with the cancellation and perhaps deter future cancellations.”

O’Bryan told the court that the evidence presented by both sides was “grossly inadequate,” leaving him to speculate on the harm to consumers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which brought the case against Uber, and the tech company had already agreed on a fine of A$26 million. According to the information presented, less than 0.5% of Uber users choose to proceed with a journey despite being concerned about cancellation penalties. Although less than 1% of all Uber rides used the UberTaxi service, the algorithm frequently overestimated the fare, according to the judge.

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