Uber, Lyft Riders Sue Banks Over Overdraft Fees

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 13, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Using a ride sharing service is already filled with enough unpleasant surprises that some riders are saying enough is enough. But rather than the ride share services facing the wrath of the riders, this time it's TD Bank, Bank of America, and Bank of the West.

The banks are being sued, in separate lawsuits, due to overdraft charges the banks hit ride share users with, despite the users not agreeing to the banks' overdraft protection services.

A Recurring Problem

For the three banks, the problem appears to be on how each classified the payments to Uber and Lyft. Rather than being considered one-time payments, the charges were considered to be recurring payments. Apparently, the problem allegedly has nothing to do with the ride share services billing practices, but rather solely with the banks.

Unlike one-time overdraft payments that require the banks to have the customers' permission to charge (by their own policies), recurring payments don't require permission. The misclassification of Uber and Lyft purchases as recurring payments led to customers being charged for overdrafts when the banks should have rejected the transactions.

Overdraft in Overdrive

The lawsuit against BoA claims that the bank allowed the misclassification in order to maximize their overdraft revenues. In the beginning of 2017, BoA settled a major class action over how it handled overdrafts, agreeing to pay nearly $30 million for wrongfully charging overdrafts to over three million customers.

In the three cases, the plaintiffs seeking to represent the classes claim each incurred overdraft fees for low cost rides. However, at this stage, it is unknown how widespread of a problem this really is. Whether this was a system glitch that only affected a handful of customers or a widespread systemic failure (which seems to be the cases given it's happening all over the place) will likely come to light rather quickly after these cases have time to develop. Although, given the black and white nature of these cases, the information may never reach the light of day if the banks can magically make the cases go away.

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