Minneapolis Uber drivers are making a fraction of what the company said they'd earn

Uber told its Twin Cities drivers they'd make $20 an hour. In reality, almost none of them did.

Uber told its Twin Cities drivers they'd make $20 an hour. In reality, almost none of them did. Star Tribune

Uber debuted in the Twin Cities more than four years ago. Today, the San Francisco company operates in nearly 550 worldwide cities and is valued at almost $70 billion.

CEO Travis Kalanick, who serves on a business advisory group to President Donald Trump, recently defended his tight status with the polarizing leader, saying, "We'll partner with anyone in the world as long as they're about making transportation in cities better, creating job opportunities, making it easier to get around.…" 

In between the modest days as a ride-hailing start-up and its exec becoming a presidential BFF, there were promises.

In cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and Minneapolis, Uber ran ads on Craiglist to recruit drivers. "Make $20/hour," they pledged. Moreover, Uber's website, as recently as 2015, advertised the annual median income for a driver in its UberX service in New York City was $90,000. In San Francisco, $74,000. 

Turns out those numbers were a little generous. 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently sued Uber. The feds charged the company with making misleading and exaggerated claims regarding how much its drivers could expect to earn.

Would-be drivers in Minneapolis were led to be believe their average earnings would be $18 per hour. According to the FTC, only 10 percent of drivers actually made that kind of money. 

Uber swiftly decided not to fight the suit. Instead, it chose to play nice, agreeing to pay $20 million, though the company didn't have to admit any wrongdoing.

The cash will go back to many of the Uber drivers who were taken for a ride.