What do we learn from Uber’s lat­est Faux Pas?

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Brand advertising has the po­ten­tial to ma­nip­u­late in­di­vid­u­als into buy­ing the prod­ucts, which they might con­sider avoid­ing oth­er­wise. This is the rea­son why gov­ern­ment bod­ies and law­mak­ers across the world in­tro­duce reg­u­la­tion to keep mis­lead­ing, de­cep­tive, and false advertising in check. Con­sumers have the right to know about the ser­vice they are us­ing or prod­uct they are buy­ing.

Uber CEO Travis Kalan­ick is cur­rently tack­ling hun­dreds of clas­s­ac­tion law­suits filed against his com­pany around the world. Af­ter to­day, he can, at least, strike one off the day-to-day in­creas­ing list. In 2014, the cities of San Fran­cisco and Los An­ge­les sued the rideshar­ing gi­ant over the pro­ce­dures of back­ground check­ing. Fi­nally, Uber has man­aged to set­tle the case out of the court for up to $25M i.e. $15M legally and in hand $10M in the time span of 60 days. The set­tle­ment, which has been ap­proved by a judge of San Fran­cisco, has al­ter­ations to a few Uber poli­cies and mon­e­tary poli­cies. Also, the ride-shar­ing ser­vice is con­fined to func­tion­ing at air­ports. If by any chance Uber

fails to stick to these al­ter­ations for at least two years, the com­pany will have to pay an­other $15M.

Uber has as­sured not to use ‘lan­guage’ it has been us­ing so far, and it swears to con­fine its ser­vices to the air­ports in Cal­i­for­nia where it’s per­mit­ted to of­fer rides. The rideshar­ing gi­ant used to func­tion at air­ports with­out any ex­plicit ap­proval to do so. It also charged $4 as toll fee for the air­port. Mov­ing fur­ther, the com­pany as­sures it will con­tinue to en­sure that fare cal­cu­la­tion in the app based on data pro­vided by GPS re­mains fair. It will do so by the help of the Divi­sion of Mea­sure­ment Stan­dards.

De­cep­tive advertising is il­le­gal in most coun­tries. How­ever, mar­keters still man­age to find meth­ods to de­ceive cus­tomers in ways, which are le­gal, or il­le­gal tech­ni­cally, but un­en­force­able. For brand ad­ver­tis­ers, this ‘loop hole’ may work most of the time, but not ev­ery time.

Uber is a com­pany with a val­u­a­tion of $60 bil­lion, which is not an easy job. So we’re sure that $10M or $25M won’t make any dif­fer­ence to Uber CEO Travis Kalan­ick. But, we’re hop­ing that Uber fi­nally learns a les­son af­ter set­tling this deal and works to­wards pol­ish­ing its legally tar­nished brand im­age.

Im­age: Kalan­ick speak­ing at DLD 2015 in Mu­nich, Germa

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