back to article Uber fined $14m for lying to get customers to ditch cabs

Australia's Federal Court has fined Uber AU$21 million ($14 million) for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct. Uber did so in two ways – one of which involved the offer it made in some parts of Australia to arrange rides in ye olde licensed taxis from within its app. The court found that Uber's app and website …

  1. Sampler

    I really dislike UberEats

    They've insinuated themselves in to markets where they offer no value, yet take a wedge.

    In the before time, I'd order a takeout, the restaurants own delivery drive would drop it off, I'd pay menu price and usually be over the minimum for free delivery between the amount ordered for the household.

    These days, there's an inflated menu price on the app (vs the instore menu), I have to pay a service fee that's in excess of the previous delivery fee (and often no longer free above a value) and then I'm asked to pay for delivery on top of the service fee, plus another fee if I want to be delivered warm, not have them drop someone else's food off first. If I get my order, a solid third have never materialised which is metrics higher than any issues I'd had before Uber came on the scene (or menulog, or any of their ilk).

    They've ruined the customer experience, they've made delivery drivers jobs somehow more hell and they get millions for it, it's not right.

    I've stopped using them, but I'm one person, it's not going to matter to them.

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: I really dislike UberEats

      I stopped using them after they charged me more than what was shown on the checkout screen, support were completely useless. Got a refund through AMEX in the end.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I really dislike UberEats

      Most places still do their own free delivery if they did before UberEats. Different prices on different platforms is nothing new, it's been a thing for ages on platforms like JustEat etc. the premium is there because the platforms increase the reach of the restaurants...getting the restaurant into the eyeballs of a customer that might otherwise never have found them, they also provide better payment processing, accept more cards, might have better security than a janky low budget restaurant website etc etc.

      The main difference between using UberEats etc is the *speed* of the delivery. If you use a restaurants own drivers, you might be waiting an hour or so, if you use UberEats, it's within 30 minutes most of the time (at least round here, West London).

      You're not paying a premium for nothing, you're paying for speed and convenience...which is true for anything. You are essentially "sending your own man to pick something up" rather than relying on the staff at the restaurant.

      If you're at the penny pinching end of the scale, driving to the restaurant and collecting it yourself for a 10% discount will always be a thing. For everyone else there are varying degrees of security, convenience and speed and these have varying associated costs.

      It's not unfair that some platforms cost more or add cost to your dinner, that's just how convenience works. You trade in a little bit more of your cash, for a little bit more convenience. Like the different seats on an aircraft. You want a bed, access to the terminal lounge and a better meal? Pay more, fly Business. You don't care about the meal, don't want comfort? Cool, fly economy or go to Blackpool.

      1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: I really dislike UberEats

        But the person you're replying to clearly *isn't* getting a better, more convenient service in exchange for the extra money. They made quite clear that the problem is that it's the complete opposite.

      2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: I really dislike UberEats

        My experience, of Deliveroo, not UberEats (because I, too, have zero trust in that particular company, although Deliveroo are arguably no better), is that restaurants that deliver themselves (and some do, because they resent paying their delivery fee to Deliveroo) deliver faster than some of the Deliveroo riders.

        Some of the delivery riders are really shit as well. I know it's a horrible job, but I have a personal policy of giving a decent tip to the riders who can find my front door and who are polite, and not tipping those who do a half-arsed job. They get the tip for service that a waiter would get in a restaurant; they're basically doing the equivalent job.

        However, often, the riders try to deliver "to the postcode" and not follow the delivery instructions (postcodes cover several properties, and putting mine into google maps takes you to the shops 200m down the road). Food turns up cold, or in damp torn bags, because they've thrown it into a backpack and knocked it about. I've had ones argue with me like it's my fault that the company's website doesn't let you properly give directions in a way that shows up to the rider, and only lets you put in an address. It's like waiting staff getting pissy with you because they can't find your table number. No tip.

        Deliveroo take a quite a hefty cut, though, from the restaurant, and the customer. This is reflected in higher item prices, plus a "service" fee, plus a delivery fee (unless you have "Plus"). I'm sure it's a profitable business model.

        1. Sampler

          Re: I really dislike UberEats

          Well, they've noped out of Australia so it can't be that profitable of a business model!

          1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

            Re: I really dislike UberEats

            That's probably because they can't find many riders willing to take a delivery on a three-day drive across a venom-infested desert.

    3. G2

      Re: I really dislike UberEats

      most of the current price increases are not (only) UberEats' fault but more because of the pandemic ... people started to order in much more while at the same time not visiting food places in-person.

      Even if the pandemic restrictions have mostly relaxed now, many people have adapted to just ordering in instead of visiting in-person.

      While before it was possible to (somewhat) subsidise a part of the costs of delivery from the proffits of the in-person side of business, once that side shrivelled up the companies started to realise the true cost of delivery: time spent, wages, fuel, vehicle costs and spare parts/maintenance.

      Also, some will also cover speeding tickets just to meet that 30 (or 60) minutes pizza delivery time that many customers expect... those tickets will also increase the overall delivery costs.

      A lot more deliveries to make compared to in-person food serving = a major increase in operational costs that has to be financed from somewhere.

      Delivery costs to the end user are that "somewhere".

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: I really dislike UberEats

        ... some will also cover speeding tickets just to meet that 30 (or 60) minutes pizza delivery time that many customers expect...

        Good business plan: we can't make it in 30(60) minutes if we obey traffic laws but we'll advertise it anyway so we'll just add the cost of the ticket for every order. If the ticket is issued then we're covered. If not, PROFIT!

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: I really dislike UberEats

          Came to say pretty much the same thing. If your drivers can'i hit delivery time targets without breaking the law, there's a serious problem with your business model.

          It's also a pretty self-destructive business model in countries where the driver is banned from driving after a few speeding offences. Tends to rapidly deplete your pool of drivers.

          1. G2

            Re: I really dislike UberEats

            (previous poster here)... and i have to say that fortunately for me i'm not working in the delivery or transport business.

            However, what i said above about the tickets is (unfortunately) true for many delivery services in Eastern Europe... they rely on the fact that we do not have (yet) fixed-location speeding cameras and what little traffic police presence there is, is relatively predictable and (usually) announced on Waze.

            The Govt. already announced for next year the initial installation of some permanently fixed traffic cameras - but i do not expect it to make much of a difference at start.

            1. AbominableCodeman

              Re: I really dislike UberEats

              I don't think you being in Eastern Europe is a factor. The road etiquette of the scooter delivery riders is crap everywhere.

              In my city they completely disregard pedestrian only spaces, I overlook a pedestrian square bordered on all sides by restaurants, the number of 'roo delivery guys who mount the pavement and shoot across the square full of children playing, without decelerating until they get to their target restaurant is beyond counting. They ignore one-way systems, park their rides on the pavements, and gangs of them clog up motorcycle parking bays while waiting for orders on a regular basis.

      2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: I really dislike UberEats

        Most of the *current* price increases are due to the increase in prices of ingredients, and, due to inflation, of labour. If something that you pay £5 for previously cost £4 to make and serve, but due to inflation, now costs £4.75, it's fair for the seller to raise the price to £6, so that they can still make a profit and feed themselves.

        We need to tackle the causes of inflation, which are largely down to increased costs in the supply chain. Some of this is down to "global" factors like the war in Ukraine, especially on products that originate largely from that part of the world, such as sunflower oil, but a lot is self-inflicted by brexit and profit-extraction by essential utilities which nobody can avoid paying.

      3. eldakka

        Re: I really dislike UberEats

        > Also, some will also cover speeding tickets just to meet that 30 (or 60) minutes pizza delivery time that many customers expect... those tickets will also increase the overall delivery costs.

        And how do they cover the loss of points on the driver's license and the eventual license suspension for 12 months - thus putting that driver out of delivery work - when enough points are accumulated?

  2. wyatt

    Never personally ordered a Uber but have travelled in one, when it finally arrived. I order direct with takeaways and generally collect, I can't see the benefit of the increased cost of someone delivering it. I see the drivers sitting waiting for multiple orders at MacDonald's to make it worthwhile- who wants cold food.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      drivers sitting waiting for multiple orders

      not sure how it will pan out in the long run, but in my neck of the woods (SW Brum) , you can't get a drive through or sit-in meal at any of the McDonalds as the queue of Uber/Deliveroo vehicles spills out onto the road.

      2 weeks ago we tried 3 different McDs and couldn't get into any. In the end we came home and made toast.

      And our local chippy has a stream of collection orders that they prioritise over in-shop purchases. Well they did last time I went. Which is the last time I went.

      1. rafff

        Re: drivers sitting waiting for multiple orders

        "2 weeks ago we tried 3 different McDs and couldn't get into any. In the end we came home and made toast."

        You may have been better off, w.r.t both health and wallet.

      2. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: drivers sitting waiting for multiple orders

        I'm not sure why they call McDonald's "fast food", as in my experience it's neither.

        1. eldakka

          Re: drivers sitting waiting for multiple orders

          > I'm not sure why they call McDonald's "fast food", as in my experience it's neither.

          I don't me, for me it seems to often go right through me pretty fast.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, I don't understand having McD's makes no sense for anyone involved. But outside of the chains, its never multiple orders at a time per driver.

      I often find UberEats / Deliveroo are faster than in house delivery which means my food arrives hotter. As a bonus, because the driver doesn't want to be held up longer than necessary, you also have a man on the ground speeding things up for you.

      As with a lot of services though, these delivery platforms get better over time if you use them regularly rather than just ad hoc as the drivers can see history of interactions which means the better drivers typically start to pick the better customers (higher probability of tips, shorter drive, friendlier, more manageable order size) rather than taking every order that comes their way.

      I regularly get the same drivers for UberEats and Deliveroo and if I get those drivers, I know my food will arrive fast and piping hot.

  3. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    If they readily agreed to pay $26 million, it suggests that it earned them much more than that and they were able to write off that as a "cost of doing business".

    Reducing the fine to $14 million suggests the legislation lacks teeth, or that Uber employed a slick lobbying firm who were worth their money.

    None of these things pleases me greatly. Especially as it often feels like "big tech" are the modern day robber barons.

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