US: Uber service hit by “gratuity” surcharge lawsuit image

The nascent industry of smartphone services that allow users to call in for rides is fiercely battled across the US and Europe. Many court orders ban the service, lawsuits swarm and taxi owners protest against them around the world.

The latest in a string of setbacks the tech company faces is a lawsuit from a user that claims the company has violated unfair-competition and consumer-protection laws. The disgruntled customer says in the filling that Uber Technologies, which uses a smartphone application to offer car rides, wrongly administers the 20% gratuity surcharge. According to the suit the service keeps “a substantial portion” as additional revenue instead of giving it to the drivers, says an Illinois resident who thinks the ride-share company openly misleads customers about what they really pay when “hitching” the ride.

Now, a federal judge in San Francisco has partially allowed the lawsuit to go forward, denying the company’s case dismissal bid. Of the accusations, the judge set aside the breach-of- contract claim and retained the claims the company violated unfair-competition and consumer-protection regulations.

Uber is not the only car-share company facing troubles, as Lyft and other rival companies are often challenged on grounds of safety, unfair-competition to taxi and limousine drivers and have been banned in certain parts of the world.