The first of what promises to be many class actions filed against Uber’s scorched earth tactics in Austin was filed yesterday in federal court in Austin. Cubria v. Uber Technologies, Inc. is a class action brought by an Austinite relating to “robo-texting thousands of unwanted text messages to the cell phones of thousands of Uber users in Austin, Texas—all without the prior express consent of those receiving Uber’s text messages—as part of a political campaign by Uber to oppose mandates from the City of Austin which impose various background check procedures for Uber drivers.”
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that Uber was robotexting on a grand scale over the last couple days–this in addition to the Uber and Lyft PAC dropping well over $8 million–so far–to write their own rules.
Just to make sure you understand what that means–Uber/Lyft PAC spent more inside the proverbial Austin city limits than Ted Cruz spent running for president in the state of Indiana Republican primary. We have every reason to think that the total spent by Uber and Lyft will be well over $10 million, if you can ever unpack what they actually spent as opposed to what they actually disclosed they spent as required by law.
Also–we have anecdotal evidence of former Uber users who have not had the app on their phone for weeks or months who also received both a robotext and an unsolicited phone call from Uber promoting the ballot proposition.
What happens if you try to call the phantom robotexts? According to the complaint, “[A]ll phone calls to “Cameron, Jeffrey and Mike and Jeff from Uber”—even those made immediately after the text message is delivered to the text message recipient—are answered with the identical computer generated message, stating only, in a feminine voice: “We’re sorry—an application error has occurred. Goodbye.”
In other words–fake.
This is the typical fake astroturfing tactics that we’ve all gotten accustomed to from tech companies trying to impose their corporate will. Maybe this time, they’ve gone too far.