Tens of thousands of drivers eligible for a refund after company admits it took too much commission from drivers’ fares for two-and-a-half yearsA pickup point for Uber at LaGuardia airport in New York. Uber has faced criticism before over its treatment of drivers.

Uber will pay New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars after admitting to underpaying them for two-and-a-half years by taking a larger cut of drivers’ fares than it was entitled.

Under the terms of service the ride-hailing company put in place in November 2014, Uber was supposed to take its percentage of the commission – ranging between 20% and 25% – after deducting sales tax and a local fee to fund benefits for injured drivers. Instead, the company calculated its commission on the gross fare, resulting in more money for Uber and less for drivers.

The average payout-per-driver will be about $900, an Uber spokesperson said, and drivers will see their fares calculated correctly going forward. With tens of thousands of drivers eligible for a refund, the company will be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.

An Uber spokesperson said that the company discovered the mistake in recent weeks, as it was preparing to roll out a new pricing scheme.

However, questions about Uber’s calculation of New York City commissions were raised nearly a year ago in a class-action lawsuit filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA). The suit, which was filed in federal court in New York in June 2016, alleged that Uber’s deduction of sales tax and the injured driver fee after the commission was calculated violated the terms of service and amounted to wage “theft”, as Bloomberg BNA reported at the time.

This is the second time in recent months that Uber has admitted to underpaying US drivers. In March, the company paid refunds to UberBlack drivers in Philadelphia after charging them an extra 5% in commission for about 18 months. In January, Uber agreed to pay $20m to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that it had tricked drivers with false promises of higher earnings.

Uber has been accused of shortchanging drivers in numerous lawsuits, including a recent suit that alleges Uber’s “upfront” pricing scheme is designed to “defraud drivers”.

Uber’s theft of drivers’ hard-earned wages is the latest in a long history of underhanded tactics in this industry
Jim Conigliaro Jr, Independent Drivers Guild
“We are committed to paying every driver every penny they are owed – plus interest – as quickly as possible,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s regional general manager for the US and Canada, said in a statement. “We are working hard to regain driver trust, and that means being transparent, sticking to our word, and making the Uber experience better from end to end.”

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the NYTWA, said that while she welcomed Uber’s “progress”, her organization believes that it is unlawful for Uber to take the sales tax and fee from the driver’s fare in the first place.

 Uber CEO Kalanick. This is the second time in recent months Uber has admitted underpaying US drivers.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest
 Uber CEO Kalanick. This is the second time in recent months Uber has admitted underpaying US drivers. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
“Uber hasn’t just wrongly calculated its commission, it has been unlawfully taking the cost of sales tax and an injured worker surcharge right out of driver pay as opposed to charging it on top of the fare as the law requires,” Desai said in a statement.

“This payout is an attempt by Uber to pull a fast one to avoid court oversight and shortchange drivers in the process,” she added. “Nice try. We’ll see you in court to win back all of the money drivers are owed, includ[ing] up to double damages.”

The Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the Machinists union that represents ride-hail drivers in New York, called for city regulators to launch an investigation into payment practices by ride-hail companies.

“Uber’s theft of drivers’ hard-earned wages is the latest in a long history of underhanded tactics in this industry,” said Jim Conigliaro Jr, the founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, in a statement. “This is exactly why we have been calling for industry-wide pay protections to stop the exploitation of New York’s drivers once and for all.”


I had a really bad Uber ride. Can I give the driver one star or will it wreck his ratings?
 Read more
Uber has long faced criticism over its treatment of drivers, which it considers independent contractors rather than employees. The classification of drivers as contractors allows Uber to avoid paying minimum wage or providing benefits such as workers’ compensation.

In March, a video of Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver went viral, prompting the CEO to apologize and seek “leadership help”. In the video, Kalanick responded to his Uber driver raising concerns about his livelihood by saying: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else.”

The embattled CEO has faced a slew of scandals this year, including allegations of widespread sexual harassment and gender discrimination and a costly intellectual property battle with Alphabet. In March, the New York Times reported that about 500,000 riders have deleted their accounts in protest of the company’s practices.

Uber admits underpaying New York City drivers by millions of dollars

How social media filter bubbles and algorithms influence the election

Car insurance comparison sites

 who fail to shop around for insurance have been found to overpay by £1,400 over a decade
An audit of 9,000 motorists by research agency Consumer Intelligence found drivers who stick with the same car insurer after the first year lose on average £63 compared to those who switch providers.
The longer drivers stay with the same provider, the more their loyalty costs them, as the study found drivers staying with the same provider for 10 years will lose £1,400.
The Financial Conduct Authority introduced new rules in April, which require insurers to display the current and renewal price for motorists. The FCA estimates the new laws will save motorists and other consumers more than £100million by alerting them of any price hikes.
James Bridge, assistant director, head of conduct regulation at the Association of British Insurers welcomed the move:“The recent changes made by the industry regulator, which we had long called for, and which include showing both the existing and new premium on renewal notices, should make it very clear whether people are being asked to pay more.”
However, Bridge pointed out that the cheapest policy isn’t always the most appropriate for some drivers: “Customers should always remember to buy the policy that best suits their needs, and not simply the cheapest on a price comparison website, or elsewhere.”

Loyalty to one car insurance company leaves you £1,400 worse off over 10 years

BMW 5 Series

BMW has announced a round of updates for its UK range, including two new engines for the new 5 Series as well as changes to the 1, 2, 3 and 7 Series models.
The first new engine is the 520i petrol, which is a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 183bhp and 290Nm of torque, delivering a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds and economy of 52.3mpg. The other four-cylinder engine is the 525d, a diesel model with 229bhp and 500Nm of torque, returning 64.2mpg.
Both use an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox and are available in SE or M Sport trim in the saloon or Touring - though the 5 Series is also now available under BMW's Individual scheme, letting buyers spec more bespoke vehicles if they've got the cash.
The Touring version also gets a new 520d xDrive 4x4 model added to the range. All these new models are available now, starting at £41,580.
Meanwhile, the 7 Series limo is now also available with a four-cylinder diesel engine - either in the 725d or long-wheelbase 725Ld. With 229bhp and 500Nm of torque, as in the 5 Series, the 7 takes 6.9 seconds to go from 0-62mph and will manage 61.4mpg. This model costs from £61,300.
Also from July, the BMW 3 Series will be fitted with LED lights as standard, plus an upgrade for the infotainment software and the optional 8.8-inch display. A new M Sport Shadow Edition is also available on the 3 Series (Saloon and Touring) with a set of visual and spec upgrades, costing £1,900 more than a normal M Sport (from £33,150).
A new, limited-edition Protonic Frozen Yellow Edition of the BMW i8 will arrive in the summer as well, starting from £116,250.

New 4cyl engines bolster the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series ranges

Shocking Car News, a blog written by an EV owner, is moving to The Sasson Report

The humble, all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (photo from Mark Brush/Michigan Radio).


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Auto writers from the United States and Canada have crowned an EV you can buy in only two states as 2017 North American Car of the Year.

At the international auto show in Detroit, GM's all-electric Chevy Bolt beat out the Genesis luxury sedan and a big Volvo, both powered by conventional internal-combustion engines.

I went online to find out whether I can buy a Bolt in New Jersey, and was told the EV is available in limited numbers only in California and Oregon.

Here's the result of my live chat:
Benjamin:3:00:38 PM
Thank you for your interest in the Bolt EV! The Bolt EV will be available nationally, but the vehicle is currently available in California and Oregon. The national roll-out begins in 2017, and a number of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia, will see first deliveries this winter. Bolt EVs will arrive to more dealerships in additional major metro markets throughout the first half of 2017. The Bolt EV will be available at Bolt EV-certified dealerships across the United States in mid-2017.
New Jersey connection

The Bolt EV-certified dealer nearest my home is in Paramus, which is also is where my Tesla dealer is located. 

The front-wheel-drive Bolt has a range of 238 miles on a full charge, but GM is calling its first mass-produced EV an urban vehicle, because the auto giant isn't providing a Tesla-like network of free chargers.

The 5-door EV is available in two trim levels, LT with a starting MSRP of $36,620, and Premier, with a starting price of $40,905, according to Chevy's website.

Expect to pay another $2,000 to $2,500 for installation of a 240-volt outlet in your garage to achieve the fastest home charging.

DC Fast Charging Capability is an option on both models, but the Driver Confidence II Package is available only on the Premier, with these features:


  • Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking
  • Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Following Distance Indicator
  • Front Pedestrian Braking
  • IntelliBeam® headlamps
Requires available Infotainment Package.

You can't buy 2017 North American Car of the Year outside of California and Oregon