Toyota in the crosshairs of a class action lawsuit

Uber Eats defends its shipping costs

Delivery fees charged by Uber Eats continue to be the subject of debate in court.

Posted at 6:30 am

The case is not the amounts billed when you’re dying to eat a poutine without moving. Only in how the information is presented online.

The big question that the judge may have to answer is, therefore, the following: when using the Uber Eats platform, do you buy a meal and a delivery service, or a meal delivered?

See the subtlety of the debate…

We still don’t know if it will take place, notice. The Superior Court must decide whether or not to authorize a class action lawsuit in light of the arguments presented to it last Tuesday.

Lambert Avocats states that the Consumer protection law It is violated when mandatory shipping costs are added at the end of the purchase process, since it is prohibited to sell a good or service at a higher price than advertised.

The Uber Eats platform, for its part, maintains that it sells food at the advertised price, and that it sells its home delivery service at the advertised price. “The law does not oblige the merchant to announce the price of the additional services chosen by the customer at the same time as the price of the good,” argued François Giroux, of McCarthy Tétrault, one of the lawyers for Uber Eats.

If you feel like you’ve heard of this story before, that’s fine. We are back to square one after an unexpected and unusual change.

For the record, a class action lawsuit had indeed been authorized at the end of 2021. But the $200,000 settlement between Uber Eats and the firm Lambert Avocats, which was supposed to close the case, had been rejected by the High Court. In the process, the judge canceled the authorization, hence the resumption of the discussion.

It was law students and law professors, in particular, who opposed this regulation. Because it did not include any payments to the 1.9 million Uber Eats customers and because the sum was insignificant compared to their number.

Without this objection, the sum of $200,000 in attorneys’ fees, the Fonds d’aide aux action collectives (FAAC) and charities would have been paid.

Lambert Avocats had defended the settlement, saying the class action’s chances of success were uncertain given the absence of case law. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Given this admission, the group of students from the University of Montreal that challenged the agreement hoped that the file would be closed. “We were all shocked when we heard that Lambert was back on the attack,” one of the group members, Marie-Ève ​​​​Maillé, confided to me. Of course, the Uber Eats lawyer did not fail to remind the judge that his own opponent believed very little in his chances of success.

It will be interesting to see how far this cause will go. Who will benefit? What will change for Quebecers. One of the objectives of collective action in the matter of consumption is the cleanliness of practices. A decade ago, Air Canada added fares of all kinds to its tickets, so the displayed price had nothing to do with the actual price. This is not the case. And we are happy about that.

In the case of Uber Eats, which has already modified its website so that the shipping costs are clear from the outset, it should be noted that the interest of using the already overflowing judicial resources to celebrate a “meal + delivery or meal” can be questioned. delivered”. ” debate. The lawyer Jimmy Ernst Jr Laguë-Lambert sees in it the opportunity to create jurisprudence, he told me. This is commendable, defensible. The number of affected is also very high.

But beyond the legal questions, this case raises others on a practical level. Isn’t it reasonable to expect, when buying a meal or a sweater online, to be charged for delivery? Isn’t it desirable to know the amount that will have to be paid for this service?

One of the solutions to respect the spirit of the law that prohibits “fragmented” prices is to include the cost of shipping, Lambert Avocats suggested, in court. It’s already happening.

St-Hubert and Benny&Co. use this strategy. But is it perfect? Not really. Unless you take the time to compare prices at the store, you’ll never know you paid $3.45 for your brisket with fries delivery. The law is respected, but at the cost of transparency. Worse still, said shipping costs add up when choosing multiple items. In the end, a fixed price can be more affordable.

And if we forced the display of prices including delivery, would clothing, hardware and grocery stores be subject?

No one can predict the outcome of the action against Uber Eats, but the effects of a possible judgment should not cause consumers more harm than good.

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