FETCH CEO: Uber's allegations are 'unsubstantiated, completely without merit, and purposefully inflammatory'

A growing roster of marketers have been speaking up on issues of fraud and transparency in digital advertising in recent years, but yesterday Uber took it a step further.

The company filed a lawsuit against Dentsu-owned mobile agency Fetch yesterday, alleging that the advertising agency billed Uber for fraudulent ads and seeking at least $US40 million in damages.

Fetch’s CEO James Connelly responded to the suit today with an emailed statement denying the allegations and saying that the agency would respond robustly “to ensure we set the record straight.”

“We are shocked by Uber’s allegations which are unsubstantiated, completely without merit, and purposefully inflammatory so as to draw attention away from Uber’s unprofessional behaviour and failure to pay suppliers,” he said. “It is unfortunate that Uber would misconstrue facts and use an industry-wide issue as a means of avoiding its contractual obligations.”

Connelly added that Fetch had terminated its agreement with Uber “months ago,” after the company had stopped paying invoices for services provided by “over fifty small business suppliers” the agency had relied on to place its mobile ads.

He said that Uber raised “unsubstantiated claims relating to ad-fraud” to pay its invoices after months of non payment, adding that Fetch delivered on the strategic goals it had promised Uber and even advised the company on tactics to reduce fraud.

“Fetch takes ad fraud extremely seriously and has been working with clients and suppliers to minimise its impact within ad networks,” he said.

Uber paid Fetch more than $US82.5 million for its ad effort between 2015 and the first quarter of 2017, according to court documents filed Monday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The company has withheld about $US7 million in payments to Fetch since “the extent of the fraud” came to light, the complaint said.

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