It’s the app which has revolutionized the taxi industry. But Uber isn’t always as super as its name suggests. Here’s a look at how the company has continually made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
20. It got caught up in an immigration protest
Not for the first time, Uber was accused of trying to profit from other people’s misery in 2017. While the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a strike against Donald Trump’s immigration order, Uber continued to offer rides. As a result, many users deleted the app in protest.
19. It exploited a hostage situation
Three years earlier, Uber managed to work a hostage situation to its own advantage. Implementing surge pricing, the company increased prices four-fold to capitalize on thousands of workers seeking refuge from a terror attack in Sydney. The company was later forced to apologize and offer free rides following online outrage.
18. It repeatedly deceived police
The data-collecting tool known as Greyball was devised by Uber to help drivers avoid aggressive passengers. But the company has also been accused of using it to deceive the authorities. Indeed, with its use of “ghost cars,” Greyball helped drivers to avoid sting operations in cities where Uber was violatings regulations.
17. It deceives its own drivers
Uber isn’t averse to deceiving its own drivers, either. In 2017 it paid a $20 million settlement following allegations that it made false promises to new recruits. The company allegedly overestimated how much a driver would earn while also underestimating how much they’d have to shell out to finance a vehicle.
16. It’s accused of stealing trade secrets
Uber added “calculated theft” to its rap sheet in 2017 following a lawsuit from a self-driving car company. Owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Waymo alleged that one of its ex-employees stole its trade secrets ahead of launching his own company, Otto. It just so happens that Otto was then bought by Uber.
15. It discriminates against black passengers…
A study conducted by Stanford, MIT and University of Washington found that Uber treated black passengers differently. From a sample of 1,500 rides across Seattle and Boston, black users of the service were generally left to wait longer. In fact, on some occasions, their rides were canceled altogether.
14. …and those who are visually impaired
The blind have also faced discrimination. In 2014 the National Federation of the Blind filed a lawsuit in California claiming the company had violated the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Indeed, more than 40 blind customers had reportedly been turned away by Uber drivers in the state.
13. And, apparently, discrimination is rife within the company
Several former employees have spoken out about Uber’s problematic culture. Susan Fowler revealed in a blog post the gender discrimination and sexual harassment she experienced while working there. Furthermore, ex-engineer Keala Lusk made allegations of transphobia, malicious power struggles and exploitation of interns in her own published account.
12. Its diversity report showed no diversity
Uber would have been hoping for better results when it launched a diversity report in the wake of such allegations. Instead, it only made matters worse. The report found that only 9 percent of staff are black, almost 85 percent of its technical workforce are male and just 22 percent of leadership jobs go to women.
11. It’s lax with its background checks
Unlike other taxi companies, Uber doesn’t use the Live Scan fingerprint system which flags up any potential employees with a criminal record. According to George Gascon, California’s District Attorney, as a result, the company has murderers, burglars and sex offenders on its books.
10. Its CEO was filmed arguing with a driver
Chief executive Travis Kalanick admitted that his leadership skills were less than adequate following an incriminating video posted by a. In the clip, Kalanick berates an Uber driver complaining about financial hardship following changes in the company’s luxury service.
9. Several drivers have turned up drunk
Uber is often used to transport those way too inebriated to get behind the wheel themselves. But, according to reports, several of the company’s drivers have turned up for a shift drunk. In fact, one particular driver faced arrest in 2016 for a DUI, while another smashed into a bus.
8. Its drivers aren’t happy in the job
In a poll conducted by The Rideshare Guy, around 50 percent of Uber drivers claimed they were unhappy in their job. Moreover, a similar figure admitted they preferred driving for Lyft, Uber’s main rival. Perhaps most damningly, even Uber itself acknowledge that nearly half of its drivers leave within 12 months.
7. It’s been banned in Denmark and Italy
Some would say that Denmark and Italy have had the right idea, with both banning Uber from operating in their countries. The former made the decision after finding it guilty of improper practices. Meanwhile, taxi driver unions and politicians in the latter cited them as unfair competition.
6. It intimidates its critics
A Connecticut customer found out that you take on Uber at your peril. Spencer Meyer attempted to sue Uber because of its surge pricing, only to have his personal life raked over by a private detective firm – a firm which was founded by the White House National Security Council’s ex-director of counter-terrorism!
5. Its CEO took several employees to an escort bar
Travis Kalanick didn’t exactly do the company’s reputation any favors when he decided to take several employees out on a work’s night out. Why? The CEO and several other executives chose an South Korean escort bar to let their hair down during a 2014 trip to the country.
4. It uses cheap tricks against its nearest rival
Uber has reportedly tried to sabotage Lyft in the most childish of ways. According to a CNN report, almost 180 Uber employees booked and then canceled over 5,000 rides. It’s a tactic which loses both money and future custom and one that’s allegedly officially encouraged by Uber itself.
3. It was sued for software manipulation
And the lawsuits just keep coming. In 2017 Uber was accused of ripping off both its drivers and its customers using sophisticated software. The software allegedly shows the former a cheaper, shorter route and the latter a more expensive, longer one. Sneakily, the company then pocket the change.
2. It distracts its drivers
Uber has been accused of putting its drivers, passengers and the general public at risk with its notification system. The company gives drivers just 15 seconds to accept a new customer request or face possible temporary suspension. Critics argue that this narrow window causes drivers to be distracted while on the road.
1. It failed to act on complaints against the Kalamazoo shooter
In 2016 Uber driver Jason Dalton went on a shooting spree which claimed the lives of six people. A seven-hour search followed in which Dalton is believed to have continued accepting passengers. Uber subsequently came under attack for apparently failing to act on complaints received about Dalton before the shootings.