Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Uber Tip-Skimming Allegations Could Spark National Class Action

timothy posted about a year ago | from the whereas-the-current-taxi-cartels-are-just-groovy dept.

Transportation 167

curtwoodward writes "Uber has just raised a monster investment round that valued the company at some $3.5 billion. And it looks like some of that cash will have to be earmarked for more legal expenses. The startup, which offers an easy-to-use mobile app for hailing "black car" sedans and other rides, is being sued in federal court over allegations that it's illegally skimming the tips paid to drivers. The lawsuit also claims that Uber is misclassifying its drivers as contractors, rather than employees. The upshot: If the federal judge certifies this as a national class action, Uber could be facing millions of dollars in potential damages. Oh, and the lawyer behind it? She's made a career out of suing companies for exactly these kind of violations."

cancel ×

167 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

How is that an "upshot"? (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44705467)

So, this woman is very successful at class action suits. So, she has made millions of dollars herself, getting back pennies on the dollar for those who were actually harmed. And Uber is the claimed crook?

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705561)

So you would rather bad companies just go completely free than compensate an attorney for his or her work? Class action suits are incredibly difficult to build, organize and execute. They are far more expensive to launch than a single suit and, often, the amount per-plaintiff is too small to justify an individual court case for each. So, instead, a lawyer or law firm foots the expense of a multi-year process in the hopes of returning a verdict that both pays them back plus profits. That seems completely reasonable to me.

For some reason people forget that our civil court is often the ONLY recourse we have against wrongdoing.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705653)

On the one hand, I recognize the importance of holding the companies liable. On the other hand, many of the class action suits are totally ridiculous and almost seem like extortion. I wonder...how often do class action suits just get totally dismissed or lose in court? It seems like every single one I hear about is either a victory for the class action, or (more often) the company settles (usually without admitting guilt). I never hear about the losers. Not sure if that's just because they don't get publicized until they win, or because it rarely fails. If the latter, then it sounds a lot like the RIAA extortion where people (even innocent people) would just pay up the fine because they realized they'd have an uphill (and expensive) battle defending themselves, thus it was better just to give in and pay, which just encouraged more BS extortion lawsuits.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (5, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year ago | (#44706145)

So you would rather bad companies just go completely free than compensate an attorney for his or her work?

These lawsuits are not about the people "harmed". They are a deal between two crooks. the crook getting sued gets protection from their bad acts and the crook doing the suit gets cash. Those that were "harmed" get a coupon for future purchases.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (-1, Flamebait)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44705581)

Thats the fucking point of class action lawsuits you ignorant cunt.

This prevents companies from stealing small amounts from lots of people as no one will ever be injured enough to sue. The alternative would be to greatly expand our government to police these offences, is that really what you want?

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44705697)

It is clearly better for a law firm to make loads of money and toss some scraps to the people actually harmed. Great counter point!

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44705751)

The alternative is the company is never forced to pay, so yes that is clearly better.

If you want to see class action lawsuits where the harmed party gets the majority of the settlement then you take your money and fund such cases. You can take the risk of work for no pay, you can wait years for what might be a minimal or no return. Have at it, nothing stopping you.

Until you do that, this is the system we have. The only alternatives would be to allow companies to steal so long as the amounts were small enough or greatly expand the size of our government.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (5, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#44705753)

It is clearly better for a law firm to make loads of money and toss some scraps to the people actually harmed. Great counter point!

Well what is the alternative? Allow companies to abuse their customers and employees? Because that is exactly what would happen without some kind of balance of power.

is it right that the only winner in this situation are the lawyers? Of course not. But our legal system was created by lawyers so it is no surprise that it benefits lawyers most. The system needs fixed instead of abused. But until then at least there is some incentive for companies to not use abusive behavior.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (5, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44705873)

Our Government has decreed that health insurance companies must pay out at least 85% of the premiums they collect towards their subscribers' benefits. perhaps we could reform tort law to require class-action attorneys to pay at least 85% of the settlements they negotiate to the class members?

Naw. That's just crazy talk. These lawyers are SERVING us. Their profit motive is above reproach.

Cronyism. The New Left, same as The Old left, just without the encumberances of restraint, and in league with the Old Guard Incumbent Right, who are desperate to save their current jobs.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44705933)

Then there would be no class action lawsuits. You do understand that right?

Health insurance companies are notionally in the business of providing health insurance for profit. Class action lawsuits are not designed to provide restitution to members of the class, just to punish the party being sued and to prevent similar action in the future. This is very basic.

Forget Right or Left, you are in the camp of ignorance.

Re: How is that an "upshot"? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44707183)

So lawyers require a higher gross margin than heath insurance companies?

Perhaps lawyers would negotiate fees as part of the settlement. Which is a slick ready around the 85% rule.

Lawyers, you're welcome. Glad to be of assistance.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44707241)

perhaps we could reform tort law to require class-action attorneys to pay at least 85% of the settlements they negotiate to the class members?

Would that lead to fewer class action suits? It seems likely, if you reduce the incentive for lawyers to make those suits. If it does lead to fewer class action suits, would that reduce their deterrence of bad behavior by companies? If it does reduce the deterrence effect, could that cost consumers overall more than they lose to class action lawyers today?

I'm not disagreeing with you, it's a good idea. But good ideas sometimes have unintended consequences. It's definitely worth an experiment, but the result could go either way.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

IP_Troll (1097511) | about a year ago | (#44706007)

You clearly do not understand how class actions work. 1000 people harmed for $100 is not worth litigating individually. Lump that together into a $100,000 suit and it is worth the time to do it. Plus most class actions are contingency lawyers get like 30%, if the plaintiffs lose they don't have to pay the attorneys.

toss some scraps $70 is better than $0.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44706141)

Except that's usually not how it works in practice. If they win, the lawyers get actual real cash money, and the people harmed by the company's actions usually end up getting coupons for use at the business, or something equally stupid. Why would they want to use the business services if they are suing the business. The people the lawyer is defending should have to get paid in the same currency as the lawyer. If the lawyer gets money, so should the plaintiffs, if the plaintiffs get coupons for store services, so should the lawyers.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706277)

Well duh, that's because the lawyer has done an awful lot of work contacting 1000 people, getting their stories, getting their testimony, collating all this information, and building a case. Building a legal case where you have only 1 or 2 people to talk to to figure out what was going on is hard enough, consider how much effort it needs when you need to contact thousands, and you can't use a for loop.

Add to that that these cases are generally far more risky than normal cases, as they're far easier to pick apart by the defence team, or to slowly chop away groups of people as being ineligible, and you get to a point where you see that actually, it's pretty reasonable for the lawyer to expect a decent return on their risk.

The bottom line though is that if you think that you could do this cheaper, and pass on more to the clients, and less to yourself, then you're welcome to do that. The fact that there are [b]lots[/b] of lawyers out there, and that it's a highly competitive market, yet none of them think that they can actually do that should tell you something about the situation.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706479)

Well duh, that's because the lawyer has done an awful lot of work contacting 1000 people, getting their stories, getting their testimony, collating all this information, and building a case. Building a legal case where you have only 1 or 2 people to talk to to figure out what was going on is hard enough, consider how much effort it needs when you need to contact thousands, and you can't use a for loop.

Add to that that these cases are generally far more risky than normal cases, as they're far easier to pick apart by the defence team, or to slowly chop away groups of people as being ineligible, and you get to a point where you see that actually, it's pretty reasonable for the lawyer to expect a decent return on their risk.

The bottom line though is that if you think that you could do this cheaper, and pass on more to the clients, and less to yourself, then you're welcome to do that. The fact that there are [b]lots[/b] of lawyers out there, and that it's a highly competitive market, yet none of them think that they can actually do that should tell you something about the situation.

Hahaha, I wish you were joking, seriously, I've been a member of maybe 20-30 different classes over the last 30 years or so and not once have I or any other member of a class that I've known ever been contacted by a lawyer for testimony. There's a notification letter and an award letter, that's it.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

IP_Troll (1097511) | about a year ago | (#44706315)

If the only thing you have received as a class action settlement is coupons, you have never been involved in a class action for grown ups.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

6ULDV8 (226100) | about a year ago | (#44706831)

I guess I'm in the kiddie lawsuit group. The last class action settlement I received was a voucher for $1000 off my next purchase from General Motors. Granted I didn't have to lay out any cash or expend any effort, but as others have said, I had no plans to purchase another vehicle from them. The voucher also had an expiration date, so the settlement was of no value to me. Am I glad they got sued? Not really. I was never harmed. The truck was 20 years old at the time of the settlement. I think I got fair use from the purchase. Also, as others have said, if these suits didn't exist, there would be no recourse for the average consumer.

The suits are no different from state and federal settlements where the majority of the fine goes to the agency and consumers are left on their own. I don't like either case, but I don't have a better solution that would give enough incentive for the attorneys to tackle them. I'm going to watch cartoons now.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707023)

That settlement was in 1993 for GM trucks sold between 1973-1987 and the vouchers were issued in 2000.
 
What would a pricey truck be in 2000? $10,000? 10% off a truck? Sounds like a significantly different deal than 10% off Halo 6

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44706923)

If the only thing you have received as a class action settlement is coupons, you have never been involved in a class action for grown ups.

That said, the payment notion has merit -- the lawyers get a percentage of the payout, not a separate deal. That way, if the payout IS coupons, the lawyers have to fence those coupons -- which provides incentive for not settling on something that costs the defendant pretty much nothing (or at least much less than the face value of the settlement).

The only adult class-action suits I've personally witnessed or been part of have been against government agencies; all the "you may be part of this suit if you used Facebook/had a starbucks coffee/etc." cases seem to me to be money grabs for the lawyers only -- usually there's a limited number of people actually harmed in any way, and no intent to harm on the business side.

It makes me think that the first step should always be to confront the business and tell them to change their practice. If they refuse, THEN go after them with a REAL class action suit. If a company has a history of such cases where they're continually being asked to shape up, and always do, but not until they're asked, this should also be grounds for class action. But the coupon-based suits smack of ambulance chasing. I guess they serve a purpose though -- sort of like dung beetles. Unfortunately that purpose is not just to keep corporations behaving well, it's also th make operating a small or medium business prohibitive in certain markets (due to how much you need to pay lawyers).

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44706051)

If they didnt make money I imagine theyd tell you to go learn law yourself, and handle your own case.

Its not like you do your job (assuming you are employed) for free, do you? Its not like her law firm FORCES you to use them-- I imagine people user her because she is good at law, and as we DO live in an ostensibly free market society, she is free to charge whatever she wants. Dont like it, dont use her services, but dont act like shes done something evil because shes (GASP) successful at what she does.

How have we entered a world where being good at what you do and making money for it is the prime evil?

Re: How is that an "upshot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706979)

the irony is, of course, that it is libertarians who lead the charge against class action lawsuits because to the typical randian zealot the rights of corporations to make money is far more important than the rights of individuals. that's why I always laugh when they classroom to be about individual rights.

libertarians are the useful idiots of the oligarchs who run this country.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

Crimey McBiggles (705157) | about a year ago | (#44706013)

Actually, the alternative sounds pretty attractive right about now. Let the government focus more on policing companies instead of individuals. I think either threat, whether it's tougher regulation from the government or class action lawsuits, would a big enough headache that a company would rather avoid it altogether, regardless of the expense. Time is the one resource that can never be returned, and opportunity costs can be ridiculously high.

Also, for fuck's sake, cool off a bit before posting, man.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44706049)

Yeah, I am just so sick of seeing these same ignorant comments about class action lawsuits.

I am convinced these are the same idiots who propose tort reform as a way to control healthcare costs even though Texas has done it and proven it does not work.

I would be fine with that alternative, if we made it criminal not civil. I want to see their CEO picking up trash on the highway if we go that route.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706517)

This prevents companies from stealing small amounts from lots of people as no one will ever be injured enough to sue. The alternative would be to greatly expand our government to police these offences, is that really what you want?

The last time the feds sued on my behalf I got over 300 dollars. The last time my state did so, I got over 1000 dollars. Even the 300 dollars dwarfs the combined sum of the other 20+ awards I've gotten from private firms suing on my behalf. So if the alternative is to expand the government, I'm all for it. It seems they're doing a better job in every way that matters anyway, bigger awards, cheaper cost.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706745)

Thats the fucking point of class action lawsuits you ignorant cunt.

This prevents companies from stealing small amounts from lots of people as no one will ever be injured enough to sue. The alternative would be to greatly expand our government to police these offences, is that really what you want?

Oh, as if that hasn't already happened - and not helped "We the people" worth a damn.

And you called the GP poster an "ignorant cunt"?

Way to be a sexist jackass, too.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

rumpledoll (716472) | about a year ago | (#44705615)

The point is that a) Uber is stealing tips from the drivers and needs to be punitively punished and the behavior stopped and b) there is so much malfeasance by companies doing this sort of thing that one can make a career out of stopping them from shafting working people. That is the outrage. And yes, the bad actor in this case is Uber and their stealing, not the people trying to set it aright. Dimwit.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#44706713)

I'm only seeing a one-sided story with no real story in here. And what I'm seeing sounds like huge lawyer bullshit and media bait.

Try this:

This new lawsuit mirrors the central claim in the Boston case, in which cab driver David Lavitman said Uber was effectively skimming half his 20 percent tip by taking a $1 booking fee and 10 percent of the fare. Liss-Riordan is also one of the attorneys in that case.

"Effectively"? It sounds like a $1 booking fee (operational fee per booking for the service provider) plus a percent of total service provided (i.e. miles). This means you get billed for using the service to get a cab ($1), plus they get a cut of the total transit mileage (10% fare). That seems fair and normal for this sort of business--I mean hell, pizza delivery services charge a fucking delivery fee that doesn't go to the driver as a tip, because they have to idle and coordinate drivers while paying them a wage.

It also sounds like the fare belongs to the driver, so effectively the drivers are basically contractors. Or clients? I would have modeled this as that the drivers join to find passengers to get money from, and the passengers join to hail cabs.

“In some situations, they charge 20 percent gratuity to the customer and they only give 10 percent of that to the driver,” Liss-Riordan said. “In other instances, they just say the gratuity is included, but they don’t actually give the drivers a gratuity. So they’re basically lying to the customers.”

This sounds like bullshit. "Rather than having a single, standard system that would stand up to legal scrutiny and that may have explainable flaws in case of legal disputes, the company is going through the effort of actively doing multiple dumbshit things that provide greater and more expensive operational overhead and an obvious case for legal malice." ... yeah, no. It sounds more like "I only got half my tip wah wah wah!" "I never gots MAH tips!" hear-say being parroted as fact, before any real discovery. Given the timing, I would bet money discovery hasn't occurred and they're just making shit up.

But let's attack the big evil corporation. Start-ups are the new 1%!

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

Cabriel (803429) | about a year ago | (#44707097)

"Effectively"? It sounds like a $1 booking fee (operational fee per booking for the service provider) plus a percent of total service provided (i.e. miles). This means you get billed for using the service to get a cab ($1), plus they get a cut of the total transit mileage (10% fare). That seems fair and normal for this sort of business--I mean hell, pizza delivery services charge a fucking delivery fee that doesn't go to the driver as a tip, because they have to idle and coordinate drivers while paying them a wage.

Pizza delivery places don't take the delivery charge out of the tip. That's in addition to the tip. If Uber added the "10% of fare" and "$1 booking fee" directly to the pre-tip amount owed by the passenger, then that would be fair. Making the cab driver pay for the privilidge of having the service target his company is inappropriate.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705689)

She's fugly too.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

MatthewCCNA (1405885) | about a year ago | (#44705691)

The only people who "win" law suits are the lawyers; nothing to see here, move along.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1, Insightful)

devman (1163205) | about a year ago | (#44705923)

...and the drivers who will be reclassified properly as employees and not have there tips stolen anymore. But hey, I guess we should do away with class actions so companies can continue to rip people off just so long as the amounts are small enough not to justify a regular lawsuit by individuals.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about a year ago | (#44705985)

The drivers who I've had using Uber really are contractors - they generally work for another service or themselves and have been using Uber to "fill in the blanks" in their far more profitable direct business. They use their own equipment and their only tie to Uber is trip sourcing.

Note that this has nothing at all to do with stealing tips, which is just bad - however, Uber includes all gratuities in their pre-negotiated rate with the passengers, and presumably has a pre-negotiated rate with the drivers, so (since I didn't RTFA) I'm not sure how this could be true other than an accounting misstep.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#44706723)

It's all pre-discovery hearsay.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (3, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | about a year ago | (#44705755)

How is that an "upshot"?

<PrincessBride>I do not think it means what you think it means.</PrincessBride>

The "upshot" is simply a result, key outcome, or central point. The term, by itself, does not convey a value judgement by the person using it. Describing something as the upshot does not imply endorsement or an assessment of benefit to any party or to society as a whole; it merely indicates that what follows is the most important part of the story.

So, she has made millions of dollars herself, getting back pennies on the dollar for those who were actually harmed. And Uber is the claimed crook?

Even if we grant your implied premise - that class action suits are intrinsically unethical, or that there might have been a hypothetically-plausible way for the injured parties to recover more money - that doesn't get Uber off the hook. Both lawyer and company can, simultaneously, be (different flavours of) crooks.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#44707229)

I just looked up the word in order to harangue recent usage, and found out I was wrong. we teach contextual language acquisition, because that is how people normally learn. and when it goes horribly wrong we have a completely tangential conversation about whether this is good.

I think I will return to correcting people again. except for begging the question, because we lost that one years ago

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705761)

The word "upshot" doesn't imply that the outcome is good or bad, desirable or undesirable. It means "the final or eventual outcome or conclusion of a discussion, action, or series of events." It's like saying "TL;DR: If the federal judge certifies this as a national class action, Uber could be facing millions of dollars in potential damages."

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707307)

Because some group of neckbeards got together and decided that's what the definition would say.

Language/life/etc changes despite the rules. It's perfectly reasonable to think "upshot" has a positive valence to it, as "up" has a socially constructed positive valence against the implied opposite "down."

This is exactly how language interacts and evolves. Go away with your rules, man.

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44706019)

I assume you also get paid for fixing whatever problems your profession is concerned with. You absolute MONSTER!

It's more than resistitution (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44706385)

Others have pointed out the punishment aspect of the fines and settlements. But it goes beyond that. Even if the person harmed gets 0.10 USD per 1 USD of settlement, there are other factors as well. Some examples include the psychological aspect of a person knowing somethings done on their behalf to stick to those that stuck it to them and the company being forced to disclose the suit on their financial reports; which impacts their potential to get good loans, attract investors, and form business partnerships. Yes getting 10 pct. of the settlement is disappointing. But the companies illegal, immoral, and/or unethical behavior must be punished

Re:How is that an "upshot"? (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#44707287)

So, this woman is very successful at class action suits. So, she has made millions of dollars herself, getting back pennies on the dollar for those who were actually harmed. And Uber is the claimed crook?

Yes, because Uber actually is (it appears) a crook. Your mistake is in assuming that class action lawsuits are the proper vehicle for individuals to recover damages. They are not. They are, however, a marvelously effective way for a group of those individuals, who would otherwise be unable to mount a serious legal challenge, to collectively hit back in a meaningful (expensive to the respondent) way. In other words, the successful CA lawsuit against Uber will make them treat their employees fairly, instead of cheating them out of a large portion of the money they are due.

Startup? (1)

Scutter (18425) | about a year ago | (#44705483)

A $3.5 billion company is a "startup"?

Re:Startup? (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about a year ago | (#44705783)

Startup isn't a measure of dollars but time. Although one could argue that after 4 years it isn't really a startup based on time either.

Re:Startup? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44706891)

Startup isn't a measure of dollars but time.

From what I understand, the "startup" designation specifically refers to an early point in the business lifecycle, as a function of both time and funding.

Going by this example, [just-in-ti...gement.com] Uber would be out of Start-up by now, and is solidly in the Growth phase.

Self Driving (4, Funny)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year ago | (#44705495)

Good thing they bought all those Google self driving cars in that article a few days back! You don't need to pay the drivers or skim their tips. Good thing that actually happened.

Re:Self Driving (2)

Timothy Hartman (2905293) | about a year ago | (#44705593)

That story was a hoax and a sort of late April Fool's joke. The article was even dated a decade into the future [techcrunch.com] .

Re:Self Driving (1)

epSos-de (2741969) | about a year ago | (#44706119)

Super funny how the law is resisting technology. The winners will embrace Uber and use it to max out the profit during work. The others will loose.

Tip in cash (4, Insightful)

unixcorn (120825) | about a year ago | (#44705499)

I have used Uber and find it to be a convenient service. I recognize the additional fees that go on my card and also tip the driver in cash. From what I read in the article, it sure looks like some sour grapes from the drivers. They agreed to the program and are now complaining that they aren't making enough. Seems like they should find another pimp.

Re:Tip in cash (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705587)

The contract thing is likely not going to fly, if the drivers own their own equipment and set their own hours, I'm pretty sure they are contractors.

Skimming tips though? If that's true then Uber should be pounded into the ground, balls first. If there's a line on the receipt that says tip and it's not a tip, then it's straight up fraud, 100%. None of this "just tip cash" bullshit, why should riders be inconvenienced because of a company lying to take their money?

Re:Tip in cash (1)

bberens (965711) | about a year ago | (#44706697)

I do wonder about this. It seems to me that the parent company should at least get to pay a portion of the credit card fees out of the tip. At a big company it comes down to some flat rate per charge + a percentage of the total. Does anyone happen to know whether restaurants eat the credit card fees for a server's tip?

We need more unions / workers rights (4, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44705573)

Way to many companies are misclassifying there works as contractors or pushing them off to subs and yet controlling them like employees. So they can get it both ways of the control of employees with out the costs / responsibility's of having employees.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705705)

Solving a problem by introducing more problems is never a good plan.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44706913)

Solving a problem by introducing more problems is never a good plan.

Naysaying without offering any alternative is pretty much always a douchey thing to do.

Yea, yea, we get it, you've been instructed to hate unions. Wake me when you have something constructive to say.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705765)

The same thing can be accomplished with labor laws, and not have to resort to adding the inefficiency of a union. The last thing we need is another entity with an outstretched hand taking for employees.

Yet, since we have a liberal, union happy president then such laws will never happen.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (2)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year ago | (#44706671)

Yet, since we have a liberal, union happy president then such laws will never happen.

I assume you're using "liberal" in the US sense, i.e. to mean "left-wing"...

The same thing can be accomplished with labor laws, and not have to resort to adding the inefficiency of a union. The last thing we need is another entity with an outstretched hand taking for employees.

...which would make it ironic that you're advocating the government-created-and-enforced solution and criticising the "free market" one of one group of self-organised-people (i.e. unions) competing for their interests against another group of self-organised people (i.e. companies).

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (5, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#44705909)

Way to many companies are misclassifying there works as contractors or pushing them off to subs and yet controlling them like employees. So they can get it both ways of the control of employees with out the costs / responsibility's of having employees.

You think unions actually care about the employees, or even care about fairness? I work at a company that is partially union and a few years ago we had a union come in to try and unionize the job that I do. They employed every dirty trick in the book, from harassing people at home, getting the NLRB to change the rules of the election (from counting yes votes as a percentage of all eligible employees to just out of the total votes cast), and, worst of all (and this makes my previous point all the more telling) they actually tried to sue the company for tampering with the election because the company publicized to the employees when the election was. Think about that. The union actually wanted as few people as possible (ie only their supporters) to vote. I would much rather trust the CEO of a company who only cares about their company than the union boss who only cares about his union. At least companies are honest when they screw over their employees. Unions just smile to your face while they take the money out of your wallet.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44706931)

Which union? I was a member of the Glass, Mould, and Pottery Makers Union for several years, and never saw any of these sort of tactics employed.

FWIW, my dues were $2 a paycheck, at a time when I was banking almost $2,000/wk. Not what I would consider a ripoff, especially considering that it was because of the union I made such fat-ass pay.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707057)

Which union? I was a member of the Glass, Mould, and Pottery Makers Union for several years, and ...my dues were $2 a paycheck, at a time when I was banking almost $2,000/wk. Not what I would consider a ripoff, especially considering that it was because of the union I made such fat-ass pay.

I was a Teamster (because I wanted to work at UPS unloading trucks while I went to college). We paid 25 percent of our take home pay ($100 out of the $400 a month we got starting out) for the privilege of working in a Union shop.

Some union, like yours, might be serving their members, but mine certainly seemed to be serving themself.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#44707107)

The union was IAM, which really makes no sense considering the industry I am in. But I have seen the problems caused by other unions such as ALPA, and have had first-hand stories told to me the problems that mixed-union shops cause, with different groups getting different deals and contracts, causing hostility and an unwillingness to work together because the person is in another union. And to be quite frank, the job I was doing at the time that was trying to be unionized isn't really one that demands the type of pay you mention except of course at the high seniority level (topped out at 10.5 years is a little over 4k a month). It is unskilled labor working at a dangerous but not overly so work environment.

Unions saved my wife's life and career (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707201)

She's a scientist, and took a job at a research institution where the bosses were verbally abusive and actively sabotaging her work. Things got so bad, she was faced with the prospect of "going down with the grant". If it wasn't for the union contract, and a rep that was available to explain both the terms of her contract and have enough leverage, in the form of attorneys and the knowledge that they would actually sue, she would have been at the helm of multi-million dollar research project that produced no research.

Being forced to fail would have damaged her professional prospects, but beyond that, it put incredible stress on her psychological well-being. Union representation meant that after a spate of disgusting emails (I read them, they were appalling) and a series of requests for her to do lab-tech busywork outside of her contract, she was able to force management to let her out of the job without serious damage to her reputation. She found a better-paying job at another institution, where she busts her ass and produces excellent results, and honestly, it probably saved our marriage.

Her new workplace is great, but it isn't unionized (unions are a rarity in the sciences) and she's haunted by the prospect of finding herself victimized again. Gripe about unions all you want, when you need to go up against management, they've got lawyers, money, and your job (and possibly future prospects) on their side. It helps to have lawyers, money, and big menacing fuckers on your side. We are a union household.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#44707259)

At least companies are honest when they screw over their employees.

LOL, where to begin with that line? You think companies are honest about that? And you think it feels any better when a screwing is in your face rather than behind your back?

Anywhere power is concentrated, there is potential for abuse. Companies are concentrations of power that lie, cheat, and steal, and get away with it, more often than any other powerful organizations I hear about. In America, upper management gets ridiculously large compensation packages. It's so bad we even have a term for CEO severance packages: golden parachute.

What holds powerful companies in check? What are the checks and balances? Regulators? Whistleblowers? Unions? Lawyers? The Media? The Competition? Customers? None of those have had much success, certainly not in reining in the outrageous pay, nor in getting them to pay taxes, nor in the other games they play to weasel around their obligations. Doubt is their product. They've captured regulators, silenced scientists, persecuted whistleblowers, beat down unions, bought the media, fought lawyers with delay tactics and more lawyers, colluded with competitors, and gulled, brainwashed, and silenced customers. I find it tragically comic that so many people raise a ruckus over any hint of government abuse, even just the potential for abuse, but let corporations walk all over them. Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo should be broken and dead for their too-big-to-fail brinksmanship with the entire world economy, yet many people still do business with these thieving megabanks.

The way minimum wage is done is a case in point. We let them get away with proposing a reasonable seeming fixed amount. Then they laugh while inflation whittles away at it. Minimum wage should at the least be indexed to inflation. But that's still not enough. I'd like to see minimum wage linked to the maximum pay packages companies put together, have it be something like that the minimum wage cannot be less than 1/20th of the maximum. Then, companies would face a choice. Either they can pay their workers more, or they can pay their CEO less.

When lawyers score wins with class action lawsuits, you should salute them. We'd all like better ways to police big, bad corporations, but this has had to do.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (2)

IP_Troll (1097511) | about a year ago | (#44705917)

I don't see how forcing the taxi drivers to pay union dues will increase their paychecks.

Contract worker versus employee has nothing to do with the workers, it has to do with the company trying to avoid employment taxes. If you are a contract worker, the employer does not have to pay employment tax on you, and the employer cannot set your hours worked in a day.

If you are a contract employee and your employer tries to control your hours, quietly make a phone call to the state/ federal tax authorities.

OH but if they find out they will fire me. Then you have a whistle blower suit against the company.

Re:We need more unions / workers rights (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706165)

you're a fucking moron.

Complexity of laws (3, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44705579)

The complexity of laws pretty much assured that Uber would get in trouble at some point over something. The way they have to operate to avoid being considered taxicabs for legal purposes pretty much ensured that any way they profited would be an invitation to one suit or another.

Re:Complexity of laws (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44705591)

Which has nothing to do with this.
They want to classify these folks as contractors but treat them like employees. That is not legal if you make donuts or widgets or have a not-taxi taxi service.

Re:Complexity of laws (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44705665)

Yes, on this we agree. However, I'm willing to bet there's some contract angle from which the lawyers from Uber would disagree.

Re:Complexity of laws (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44705727)

I am sure if they thought they could get away with it they would have a contract angle that let them sell their contractors/employees blood.

Re:Complexity of laws (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44705823)

Yes, I'm sure they would. Or to buy and sell the contractors themselves.

Re:Complexity of laws (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44707047)

Maybe they have so much difficulty skirting the laws that apply to taxi service because they are a freaking taxi service.

Re:Complexity of laws (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44707163)

In the common definition, yes, but legally it is not necessarily true.

Whether they are a taxi service or a de-facto taxi service doesn't really matter to me, it's all semantics. To me, the fact that there is a market for their service and their competition is the real subject of interest.

I think it's more likely that we need to fix broken laws concerning running a taxi service than that we need to figure out how to better enforce what is presently on the books.

Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (3, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | about a year ago | (#44705595)

I've used it twice. I thought they discouraged tips, suggesting the fee you paid was inclusive of everything? That's part of the appeal. A significant number of cabs in DC don't accept credit cards, and not long ago, it used to be a free-for-all catching cabs at Union Station after midnight, with cab drivers forcing riders to share cabs, refusing riders based on destination, etc. (all of which is illegal). Uber was great for that - call a black car, they pick you up, no waiting, no cash... home in 15 minutes. Yes, it was more expensive than a cab, but the service made it worthwhile.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

Entropius (188861) | about a year ago | (#44705683)

I had a cabbie (very nice guy) in DC yesterday tell me that the city's skimming money off of the cabbies left and right to "pay for the credit card readers". Coming from a place with a decidedly-more free enterprise mindset with the cabs, what's the deal? Shouldn't the cabs only accept credit cards if they find it in their business interests to do so, and otherwise people can just pay cash? Honestly I had no idea that any cabbies *did* take plastic.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about a year ago | (#44705701)

Here in london they take plastic, some even have the NFC enabled card readers, so for cab rides under £20 it can be pretty damn convenient.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (3, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | about a year ago | (#44705875)

Well, it wouldn't surprise me. DC's cab industry is incredibly corrupt [washingtonpost.com] . I rarely take cabs anymore, but I recall there being an issue with the way the city set rates - it made it virtually impossible to know how much cash you might need (maybe it was the zone system, which they no longer use). Combine that with the difficulty of finding a cab in many areas, and the tendency of some drivers to refuse to take you to certain destinations, if all you had was a credit card, or not enough cash (or possibly not enough cash, given that you didn't really know how much the fare might be), it created enough of an inconvenience that some people (myself included) were willing to pay a premium for Uber simply to not have to deal with cash, among other things.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#44706205)

You are correct in that it was the zone system which caused all sorts of issues with fares. As you related, it was almost impossible for a person to determine ahead of time how much a fare would be because of that system.

Here is an article [washingtonpost.com] discussing the switch.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (2)

rjstanford (69735) | about a year ago | (#44706005)

Requiring a minimum standard of service (that might, for example, include having a card reader) is a reasonable trade for the right to provide a lucrative yet limited-availability service, since nobody can just "add one" to the number of cabs in the city to compete directly.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (3, Interesting)

infinitelink (963279) | about a year ago | (#44706017)

"not long ago, it used to be a free-for-all catching cabs at Union Station after midnight, with cab drivers forcing riders to share cabs, refusing riders based on destination, etc. (all of which is illegal)."

And it shouldn't be. That government in the US treats cabbies and their operations like government property, Public Utilities, etc. (all bullshit) puts these companies (and their drivers) into binds; everywhere this is done service is artificially degraded, segregated between areas (doesn't matter if there is demand to be met--such and such company bribed us off before you did)--e.g. a cabbie drops someone off 20 miles from a location and then can't pick someone up a mile away but has to drive like 15 back into his own zone: cabbies themselves have to work for a state-approved company so get raped in the *** for fees on a cab and dictated to and oh, they're also treated like contractors when really they're controlled employees (and the States and feds involved...know and have never done anything about it: to do so would destroy their licensing/control schemes).

I say let them force sharing: if you don't like it, pay more. That's how a market of people voluntarily doing work and offering services and goods is supposed to work. Frankly, it could make it cheaper: if not, people would go elsewhere (like Uber) rather than crying "it's not what I want, I should go to my legislator to have it made illegal", right? I for one...wouldn't mind splitting fare in a cab myself.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about a year ago | (#44706169)

And it shouldn't be.

Depends on what else is going to be regulated. If the city is going to dictate fares to customers (and drivers), then customers should also expect a certain standard of service in return for that fare. If there are no guarantees on what kind of service I'm going to get, why is the service provider getting a guaranteed payment?

I say let them force sharing: if you don't like it, pay more.

I did - that's why I used Uber. Instead of standing in a crowd for 20 minutes with cabbies yelling destinations at hundreds of people who just got off a late train, I paid more and got what I considered to be better service.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about a year ago | (#44706715)

For the second part you responded to, I was responding to your complaint requiring "illegal forced sharing" and that, in general, that shouldn't be a complaint: it shouldn't be illegal. Besdies that though, there should be little to no required standard of service: if the standards don't meet expectations, just don't use them, as it goes WITH ALMOST ANY OTHER BUSINESS. The only things one could say should be exceptions are life-and-death, e.g. if the card isn't even legally allowed on the road (and for real "rational bases", i.e. it's unsound and a threat to everyone else in actuality), then it shouldn't be on there.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (2)

langelgjm (860756) | about a year ago | (#44706905)

if the standards don't meet expectations, just don't use them, as it goes WITH ALMOST ANY OTHER BUSINESS.

But taxicabs aren't like other business. With any other business, you usually have a range of price points to choose from. With taxicabs, fares are set.

My point is that if the government is going to set the price, then it also makes sense for the government to set standards for the product. If you don't want such standards, fine, but you should also do away with the set pricing.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about a year ago | (#44707205)

Bullshit. It doesn't make sense for the government to set standards because it doesn't make sense for the government to set fares because the real issue is, what the fuck is the government doing in the taxicab business in the first place, besides colluding with private interests unconstitutionally and duping co-conspirators in the courts to sign-off on it? I've ridden tons of cabs and if you call the cabis directly so the company doesn't know, they give LOWER fares.

Re:Doesn't Uber discourage tips anyway? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about a year ago | (#44707283)

That's why I said IF the government sets the price, THEN it makes sense to set standards.

Well ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44705609)

The lawsuit also claims that Uber is misclassifying its drivers as contractors, rather than employees.

Well, are they contractors? You should now your own employment status.

Depending on what exactly the relationship between the drivers and the company will define a lot. If they're just a dispatcher for people who have signed up to be told they can pick someone up ... you may well be a contractor.

I'm fairly sure cab drivers aren't generally considered employees, so unless you've been hired by these people, and they're doing your payroll deductions and the like, why would this be different?

Skimming tips is another issue, and could indicate all kinds of douchy-ness, but whether or not you're a contractor will depend entirely on what kind of relationship you have with them.

Lawyers. (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about a year ago | (#44705621)

Lawyers. The only people who get praised for behaving like rotten kids instead of being sent to their rooms with no supper.

Scam lawsuit (5, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44705631)

Uber has a *lot* of enemies in the established cab and limo industry. Don't take any lawsuit against them on face value. You can bet that the REAL impetus behind this lawsuit has nothing to do with tips or contracting.

Re:Scam lawsuit (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44705767)

Ok, so let's say this is some plot by traditional cab and limo companies. So what? If Uber is able to offer cheaper prices than the established cab and limo industry because it is stealing from its employees, that's about as fair competition as a legitimate used car business competing with a car theft ring. If the complaint is true, that means a traditional limo company pays drivers $8 per hour plus tips plus half the FICA tax, and Uber is out there paying people at what amounts to $4 per hour as an "independent contractor" plus no tips and none of the taxes. And those "independent contractors" are in fact the victims of that policy and should be the plaintiffs in the suit.

That's why we have court systems with class-action lawsuits and discovery and public records and a judge and possibly a jury to sort this thing out.

Re:Scam lawsuit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707053)

They aren't cheaper. They do offer a better value though.

Re:Scam lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706097)

If payments and dispatching are handled by Uber, then their drivers are employees, period. Unless their drivers can take calls with no payments to Uber, advertise their "Uber" services with no fees to Uber, etc., they aren't contractors. "Contractor" means you are a true independent, and regularly do offer your services as such. They HAVE to be employees due to the way regulators have captured the employment and cabbie markets and turned them into arms of the State, which is the real bullshit. I despise the people here (and anywhere else) who talk as if employers actually owe anything to employees (more than basic pay) just because they're employees rather than contractors, as if that isn't all bullshit legal artifice concocted by Statist tyrants in the first place. e.g. if you want to help a friend by giving him a job but can't afford thousands in fees, paperwork, benefits, etc., just 9-10/hr and you're even going to make sure it works with the rest of his schedule...you can't. Fuck you: obey the State and its aims or let him fucking die. And yeah, I've been in this situation. I know a ton of people who have, and here in Denver a $9-10/hr job that's arranged at the convenience of the employee (so s/he could work other jobs, take care of family, go to school, or do whatever to make sure to make enough/get education to survive and even do well) is a great proposition for a lot of people. But no, you can't unless you serve Statist aims: that's called inhumane, immoral, unlawful conduct by the State: it's also unconstitutional, but the "New Deal" like policies and their enforcres that continue to nullify the Constitution and natural-rights system of "leave decent men the fuck alone" don't give a shit, they care only about their own power. If it were elsewise they'd be prosecuting the bureaucrats and authorities that continue to enforce such "laws" regardless of the founders' own proposition that /a law that infringes a right can be abrogated by a citizen with impugnity./

Re:Scam lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707161)

If payments and dispatching are handled by Uber, then their drivers are employees, period.

I realize this example is disappearing, but what about kids doing paper routes? All my subscriber's payments went to the paper and they paid me the amount over and above the whole cost of the papers I delivered; but I don't think I was ever an employee.

http://consumerist.com/2012/09/17/newspaper-carrier-i-work-hard-to-deliver-your-grandmas-paper-and-i-exist/

Re:Scam lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707245)

Your understanding of what distinguishes an employee vs. a contractor is wrong. Processing payments and referring dispatches doesn't automatically make Uber drivers employees instead of contractors. The key distinguishing metric will be the amount of autonomy the drivers have in dictating the details of their working conditions. Who sets their hours? Who provides the tools? To what extent does Uber dictate how the task is accomplished vs. the driver? Etc.

Without knowing much about Uber, I'd say it's going to be an uphill battle to prove their drivers are employees.

I Still Don't Understand... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705723)

I still don't understand how/why the taxi business is so thoroughly convoluted and corrupt, at all levels.

Upshot? (1)

LeRaldo (983244) | about a year ago | (#44705807)

This is the second time in two days I've seen "upshot" incorrectly used in an article summary. Why is this happening? Stop it.

Re:Upshot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706045)

It seems to be used correctly. It's very briefly summarizing the potential consequences for Uber.
What exactly is your complaint here?

Re:Upshot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706251)

This is the second time in two days I've seen "upshot" incorrectly used in an article summary. Why is this happening? Stop it.

What is really ironic is that the upshot of your post was entirely expected!

Did taxicab drivers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705827)

really need an elance for taxi's, lol.

Status Quo (1)

neghvar1 (1705616) | about a year ago | (#44705899)

This is a tactic being pushed by traditional cab companies to put Uber out of business and maintain the status quo. Unwilling to adapt and compete with new technologies. Same tactic as big business sending SLAPP suits or pressuring governmental entities to pass ordinances and laws that would hinder or outlaw the new technology or business practice.

How is Uber different from Gypsy cabs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705955)

I still have trouble understanding how Uber is any different than the illegal Gypsy cabs other than they are organized by a parent company. Don't they need to be regulated like any normal cab company?

Re:How is Uber different from Gypsy cabs? (2)

rjstanford (69735) | about a year ago | (#44706033)

They're registered as private "limos" (size unspecified in regulation) that are not unregulated like gypsy cabs but rather "differently regulated". For example, you can't hail a black car on the street. Uber just made it even easier to reserve one with very little notice than it is to hail a cab - that's the disruption they brought to the market.

Kneel and get my permission (3, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44706297)

Licensing, if it is to exist at all in a free societ, should be about competence and not restricting entry to a profession. Otherwise it becomes the age old tool of corruption where you know people and give kickbacks to get a license.

i.e. kleptocracy business-as-usual.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>