“The carsharing company, Getaround, will pay nearly a million dollars in unpaid taxes and for distorting the benefits and functionality of the platform”
From the DC Attorney General’s Office:
“Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that Getaround, Inc., a carsharing company that operates in many cities across the United States, will have to pay the district $ 950,000; restitution to car owners who have suffered theft or damage to their vehicles while they were listed on the platform; and revise its business practices after allegedly distorting the benefits and nature of its carsharing services, operating unlicensed in the district, and failing to pay district sales tax.
“Companies in the gig economy must play by the same rules as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. They must provide clear and precise information to consumers, especially on the safety of their services, and they must pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else does, ”said AG Racine. “With this regulation, Getaround will take the necessary measures to ensure that it provides complete and accurate information to its users. Any consumer should be able to trust that businesses operating in the district are obeying the law – and I will continue to hold accountable any business, labor economy or otherwise, that tries to circumvent these laws.
Getaround works through a website, Getaround.com, and a smartphone application, the “Getaround App”. Consumers can rent vehicles by the hour or by the day from individual owners who make their cars available through the Getaround platform. Once a consumer has submitted a rental request and it has been approved by the owner, consumers can go to the car’s location and unlock the vehicle using the Getaround app on their smartphone. The keys to the vehicle are left inside and consumers return the car at the end of the rental period.
OAG began investigating Getaround in early 2020 after receiving reports of an increase in thefts of cars listed on the Getaround platform. After discussions with OAG, Getaround agreed to make several immediate changes to improve the safety of Getaround vehicles, including the implementation of lock boxes and other platform changes. Today’s settlement resolves allegations that Getaround violated district consumer protection laws by making false claims about the safety and security of the platform, for misleading consumers into using fake owner profiles for fleet cars actually owned by Getaround, and for failing to collect and pay sales taxes. for rentals in the District. OAG issued a Consumer Alert in February 2020 to raise awareness of concerns about car thefts in the district that appeared to be related to the use of this app.
As part of the settlement, Getaround will have to:
- Pay $ 950,000 to the district: The amount includes unpaid taxes as well as a payment to the District as part of its consumer protection investigation.
- Respond, investigate and resolve user complaints: Getaround will implement and maintain written policies to ensure prompt investigation and resolution of user complaints regarding vehicle damage or theft on the Getaround platform. This will include a simple mechanism for users to report damage or theft of vehicles and will detail specific timelines for Getaround and / or their employees / agents to respond, investigate and resolve user complaints.
- Clearly represent the safety and security of its platform for car owners: If Getaround makes a statement regarding the safety and security features of its platform for car owners, Getaround will disclose the limitations of those features, including a disclosure that the feature may not protect against all damage and / or theft of owner’s vehicles.
- Disclose the terms and conditions of auto insurance: If Getaround makes any statements regarding the insurance that applies to vehicles on its platform, including statements that trips are insured, covered by insurance or are “automatically covered”, Getaround will communicate all terms and conditions of coverage, including exclusions for incidents that take place when the vehicles listed on the platform are not rented by a user.
- Indicate the exact hours of customer service: Getaround will not declare that its service or support team is available “24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” or any other similar representation, unless users can quickly speak or communicate by phone, SMS, an Chat function with live customer service or support representative.
- Do not denature the owners of vehicles rented on its platform: If Getaround offers to lease a fleet vehicle owned by Getaround to a consumer, Getaround will disclose that the car is a fleet vehicle owned, operated or controlled by Getaround. Getaround will not list user profiles on its platform as part of the rental of fleets of vehicles it owns.
- Maintain the necessary operating licenses and pay all taxes: Getaround will retain all licenses necessary to operate in the District and pay all taxes due on its business activities in the District.
- Pay the restitution to consumers: Getaround will pay compensation to consumers who have suffered theft or damage to their vehicle when the vehicle has been actively listed as available for rental in the District of Columbia. Consumers have thirty (30) days to submit complaints to OAG if they believe they are entitled to compensation.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available here.