Date
11 December 2017
Uber has been accused of conspiring with drivers to charge 'surge pricing' fares during peak demand periods. Photo: Reuters
Uber has been accused of conspiring with drivers to charge 'surge pricing' fares during peak demand periods. Photo: Reuters

US judge orders Uber customer to arbitrate price-fixing claims

A US judge ruled that Uber can force an unhappy Connecticut customer’s price-fixing case against the ride-service company into arbitration, after the customer said the proposed class action belonged in court because he never agreed to arbitrate, Reuters reports.

In an order dated Wednesday, US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan also dismissed claims by the customer, Spencer Meyer, against former Uber Technologies Inc. chief executive Travis Kalanick, unless Meyer wished to arbitrate.

Rakoff, long a critic of mandatory arbitration, said he would explain his reasoning later. Reuters obtained a copy of his order, which was not available in online court records.

“We are awaiting the court’s opinion and will consider all options as to how to proceed,” John Briody, a lawyer for Meyer, said in an email on Thursday.

Uber said in an email: “We are pleased with the court’s decision.” Lawyers for Kalanick did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

Arbitration clauses are often buried in lengthy terms of service that customers never see or would struggle to read.

Critics say the clauses, which often forbid class actions, dissuade many people from pursuing claims at all.

Meyer had accused San Francisco-based Uber and Kalanick of conspiring with drivers, whose earnings are shared with Uber, to charge “surge pricing” fares during peak demand periods.

He said he never agreed to arbitrate because a keypad had obscured a hyperlink to Uber’s terms of service, including the arbitration clause, when he signed up with his smartphone.

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