If there was ever a company that should have hired a personal injury and employment law attorney like me for risk management, prior to doing business in California, it was Uber. What an amazing idea to think like a true entrepreneur and produce results. But when Uber did that, it shook the foundations of the licensing and taxation systems and soon Uber started getting hit with claims falling under all manner of allegations. The latest case against Uber appears to be unsolicited text messages.
Although I personally have not received a text from Uber, I am reading elsewhere that this is a common thing, that drives some people crazy. Alleged Uber customers in a new lawsuit claim that Uber, the ride sharing service built around consumers use of mobile phones, is sending unsolicited texts to people that do not want the service, which they claim is a violation of federal law.
The ride sharing service Uber uses the customer’s mobile phones to sent text messages confirming the creation of an account. Users of the company’s app are able to do things like hail a taxi cab using the app and the company then informs customers their taxi is on the way by sending a text message.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago with the plaintiff seeking to represent the larger class of customers affected by the alleged unwanted texts. The lawsuit claims the use of Uber’s practice of contacting potential customers by phone calls or text messages violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. According to the complaint the company is causing individuals to receive unsolicited messages from the ride sharing service and because the company does not ensure the accuracy of telephone numbers it provides.
The law suit goes on to claim Uber does not use procedures confirming the accuracy of telephone numbers submitted by potential customers prior to sending text messages.
Uber collects phone numbers and informs customers they should expect to receive text messages on the telephone number they provided when enrolling. According to the lawsuit it is believed by the plaintiff that Uber has inaccurate numbers they possess and routinely send unsolicited text messages to people that did not consent to be contacted.
The Illinois woman filing the lawsuit claims to have receive at least nine unsolicited text message from Uber since June and the lawsuit says beginning June 14th she received messages from an Uber identified number that stated her Uber account verification number was 9274. The text said to confirm the Uber account. Next the woman received a similar text message days later and in early August received at least six text messages from Uber.
In the lawsuit the woman states she did not attempt to become an Uber customer or use Uber. The defendant Uber at no time confirmed ownership of the phone number the texts were transmitted from or confirm they had gotten consent from the plaintiff to send text messages. In the lawsuit the plaintiff contends sending of the unsolicited text messages violates the consumer’s privacy. The plaintiff states she had to pay for the frequent text messages that were not authorized resulting in monetary loss.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking damages of $500 for each of the TAPC violations that affected the consumers claiming it to be “wireless spam.” We have seen Uber get hit from all sides lately, and are interested in particular in how the company can survive with California having determined that Uber drivers are not independent contractors, and are instead employees.
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