BOSTON (CBS)– Hundreds of Uber drivers in Massachusetts will receive about $210,000 in reimbursements after an Attorney General’s investigation found they were overcharged by a car leasing service for tolls and other fees.
Xchange Leasing, a subsidiary of Uber, is refunding 336 drivers for the full amount of the overcharges, including a 20 percent premium to make drivers whole for the inconvenience and headache of trying to get refunds.
The terms were reached through a voluntary settlement agreement, otherwise known an “assurance of discontinuance.”
Xchange Leasing provided vehicles to people who wanted to drive for Uber, many who would not have been able to obtain credit or lease a vehicle. The lease payments and other charges like toll fees were typically deducted directly from the driver’s Uber earnings.
“Some of these drivers racked up hundreds or thousands of dollars in unfair and unjustified charges and fees,” Attorney General Maura Healey told the WBZ I-Team on Tuesday. “Because of this company’s shoddy practices, these vulnerable workers ended up getting hurt.”
The I-Team first looked into complaints from drivers about the excessive toll-related charges back in May.
The AG’s investigation found that Xchange Leasing sometimes charged drivers as much as two or three times for each legitimate toll fee. Additionally, the company failed to pay toll charges on time, causing late fees to accrue.
“They had access to my checking account and they were just taking money,” said one driver, who did not want to be identified, told the I-Team. “If it wasn’t for the investigation and putting exposure on Xchange Leasing, I don’t think I would’ve had any positive results.”
The average driver received a $600 reimbursement, with some getting several thousand dollars.
Through the settlement, Xchange Leasing also agreed to pay a $40,000 penalty to the AG’s local consumer aid fund.
An Uber spokesman told WBZ-TV that the ride-sharing company immediately cooperated with the investigation when the issues were brought to light.
“Xchange offers a flexible option for people who don’t own a vehicle to drive and earn money with Uber,” a written statement said. “But as we’ve grown to help more people access vehicles, we’ve also made mistakes. We have worked with Attorney General Healey’s office over the last several months to resolve these mistakes, make drivers whole for any errors, and invest in fixes that will prevent it from happening again.”
Earlier this month, Uber announced it would be hitting the brakes on the leasing program because of higher-than-expected losses.