Getaround has been fined nearly $ 1 million by the Washington, DC attorney general’s office for operating without a license and other violations, as part of a settlement the start-up peer-to-peer car rental company calls “politically motivated allegations”.
The GA’s office began investigating the company early last year after receiving reports of vehicle thefts listed on the Getaround platform. The settlement, released Friday, requires the company to pay the city $ 950,000, in addition to implementing other changes, including compensation for customers whose vehicles were stolen or damaged while they were in service. rental on the Getaround platform.
Getaround, TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield winner at Disrupt NYC in 2011, allows individual car owners to rent their vehicles by the hour or by the day through its website and app. The site, much like competitor Turo or home rental analogue Airbnb, mediates this exchange (and takes a cut at the top). The company has garnered a lot of investor interest, most recently raising a $ 140 million Series E which brought its total funding to $ 600 million.
The regulation is called “voluntary assurance of compliance”, and it is not an admission of guilt. The settlement document makes it clear that Getaround denies breaking any tax or consumer protection laws.
“Gig economy companies must follow the same rules as their brick and mortar counterparts,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “They need to provide clear and accurate information to consumers, including the safety of their services, and they need to pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else does.”
The GA office says Getaround operated unlicensed in the district, misrepresented its service, and made “false or misleading statements” about the safety of its rental car services. As part of the settlement, the company must create a written policy for user complaints about vehicle damage or theft, including a means for users to report any issues. It should also clearly disclose the limitations of its safety features, such as its ‘Enhanced Safety’ software feature, which Getaround says on its website can immobilize your car when not in use. Getaround should also spell out the terms of insurance coverage more clearly.
The GA’s office also claimed that Getaround misled consumers by creating fake owner profiles for the vehicles it owned and operated. The company must now clearly disclose its fleet cars in the lists.
A Getaround spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company “categorically disagrees” with the AG’s claims.
“Regarding safety and security, as the Attorney General acknowledges, as soon as Getaround was made aware of the safety issues affecting some cars in the district, the company took immediate corrective action,” the spokesperson said. word. “As usual, Getaround will continue to compensate car owners who have made valid claims for loss or damage. Finally, Getaround has never disputed the liability for the taxes it pays under this regulation. Getaround will continue to pay applicable taxes in the District and in all jurisdictions in which it operates. “
The company spokesperson went on to say that “while the attorney general focuses on scoring political points, Getaround remains focused on connecting safe, convenient and affordable cars to district residents who need them. to live and work ”.