to March 25, 2013, one of the options available in five cities was âuberTAXI', which allowed users to request a ride in a traditional taxi cab.
..The uberTAXI option required taxi cab drivers to use their meters as normal, who would then enter the metered fare into the Uber app at the end of the trip...Uber would then automatically add 20% of the metered fare to determine the total amount charged to the rider through the Uber app. In some cities, a separate booking fee was also charged...Beginning on March 25, 2013, Uber no longer automatically added 20% of the metered fare, but either enabled users to adjust the gratuity or required riders to pay the driver directlyâ.
The 20% Automatic Charge
âAt issue are Uber's representations as to the 20% automatic charge. Plaintiff contends that on Uber's website and in various blog posts and e-mails, Uber advertised the 20% automatic charge solely as a âgratuity' for the driversâŠ However, Uber in fact took a fee of approximately 10% of the metered fare, including a 2% credit card processing fee...Thus, the driver ultimately received about half of the 20% gratuity charged to the riders, with the rest going to Uber...In her amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the representation of a 20% gratuity âis false, misleading and like to deceive members of the public' as âthe term âgratuity' suggests a sum paid to the driver/owner in recognition of transportation service that is distinct and different from the actual fare'â.
The UCL Claim
âUnder the UCL âthere are three varieties of unfair competition: practices which are unlawful, unfair or fraudulent'...'To state a claim under the UCL...'based on false advertising or promotional practices, it is necessary only to show that members of the public are likely to be deceivedâ... The Ninth Circuit has recognized that where plaintiffs are âdeceived by misrepresentations into making a purchase, the economic harm is the same: the consumer has purchased a product that he or she d more for than he or she otherwise would have had it been labeled accurately; thus, where a violation of the UCL is found, the consumer may recover restitution which is based on what a purchaser would have paid at the time of purchase if the purchaser received all the informationâ.
Class Wide Exposure
âThe issue here is whether class-wide exposure can be inferred where Uber's alleged misrepresentations regarding the 20% gratuity were primarily on its website, blog and e-mail messages, rather than on the Uber app itself. Plaintiff did not dispute during the hearing on this matter that the Uber app lacks the alleged misrepresentation...Hence, this case is not like the product labeling cases. Nonetheless, class-wide exposure can be inferred outside of product labeling cases where there is an extensive advertising campaign...Here, plaintiff contends that exposure can be inferred...because there was a single, uniform misrepresentation by Uber that the 20% charge was gratuity and the misrepresentation was targeted towards its intended audience...The Court agrees with Plaintiff that there was a uniform and consistent misrepresentation throughout the class period... However, the Court will certify a class of individuals who received e-mails advertising uberTAXI which included the alleged misrepresentation that the 20% charge was for gratuity onlyâ.
The CLRA Claim
âLike the UCL claim, the CLRA requires âat a minimum, that the class be exposed to the allegedly false advertising at issue...In addition to exposure, unlike the UCL claim, the CLRA claim requires âan additional showing of reliance'...However, reliance can be established on a class-wide basis by materiality. In short, â[i]f the trial court finds that material misrepresentations have been made to the entire class, an inference of reliance arise as to the class'...Uber contends that in the alternative, the class cannot be certified because there would need to be an individualized inquiry as to whether the individual class members are bound by an arbitration clause, which was added for Uber app users in September 2012...Here, whether an absent class member is bound by the arbitration clause is a question that can be dealt with on a class-wide basis, as it does not appear that there will be need to be an individualized inquiry as to whether the arbitration clause is generally enforceableâ.
The Class Certified
â...the Court will certify a class of behalf of the following individuals to pursue their claim that Uber has violated (CLRA and UCL): âAll individuals who received Uber's e-mail with the representation that the 20% charge would be gratuity only, who then arranged and paid for taxi rides through Uber's service from April 20