From the office of the DC Attorney General:
“Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that Getaround, Inc., a car sharing company that operates in numerous cities throughout the United States will be required to pay $950,000 to the District; restitution to car owners that experienced theft or damage to their vehicles while listed on the platform; and revise its business practices after allegedly misrepresenting the benefits and nature of its car sharing services, operating without a license in the District, and failing to pay District sales tax.
“Gig economy companies must abide by the same rules as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. They must provide clear and accurate information to consumers, especially about the safety of their services, and they must pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else does,” said AG Racine. “With this settlement, Getaround will take the necessary steps to make sure it is providing complete and accurate information to its users. Any consumer should be able to trust that companies operating in the District are following the law – and I’ll continue to hold accountable any business, gig economy or otherwise, that tries to skirt those laws.”
Getaround operates through a website, Getaround.com, and a smartphone application, the “Getaround App.” Consumers are able to rent vehicles by the hour or day from individual owners who make their cars available through the Getaround platform. After a consumer submits a rental request and it is approved by the owner, consumers can go to the car’s location and unlock the vehicle using the Getaround app on their smartphone. 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 it received reports of an increase in auto thefts of cars listed on the Getaround platform. After discussions with OAG, Getaround agreed to make several immediate changes to improve security of Getaround vehicles, including the implementation of lock boxes and other changes to the platform. Today’s settlement resolves allegations that Getaround violated the District’s consumer protection laws by making misrepresentations as to the safety and security of the platform, for misleading consumers by using phony 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 about concerns with auto thefts in the District that appeared to be connected to the use of this app.
As part of the settlement, Getaround will be required to:
- Pay $950,000 to the District: The amount includes unpaid taxes as well as a payment to the District in connection with its consumer protection investigation.
- Respond to, investigate, and resolve user complaints: Getaround will implement and maintain written policies to ensure timely investigation and resolution of user complaints regarding damage or theft to vehicles on the Getaround platform. This will include a simple mechanism for users to report damage or theft of vehicles and will detail specific time frames for Getaround and/or their employees/agents to respond to, investigate, and resolve user complaints.
- Clearly represent the safety and security of its platform for car owners: If Getaround makes any representation 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 vehicle insurance terms and conditions: If Getaround makes any representations regarding insurance that applies to vehicles on its platform, including representations that trips are insured, covered by insurance, or are “automatically covered,” Getaround will communicate all terms and conditions for the coverage, including exclusions for incidents that take place when vehicles listed on the platform are not in a rental by a user.
- State accurate customer service hours: Getaround will not represent that its service or support team is available “24/7” “around the clock,” or any other similar representation, unless users can promptly speak or communicate by phone, text, a chat feature with a live customer service or support representative.
- Not misrepresent the owners of vehicles rented on its platform: If Getaround offers to rent 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 in connection with the rental of fleet vehicles that it owns.
- Maintain the necessary operating licenses and pay all taxes: Getaround will maintain all licenses required for it to do business in the District and pay all taxes owed on its business activities in the District.
- Pay the restitution to consumers: Getaround will pay restitution to consumers that experienced theft or damage to their vehicle when the vehicle was actively listed as available for rent in the District of Columbia. Consumers have thirty (30) days to submit claims to OAG if they believe they are entitled to restitution.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available here.”