Remember that super annoying kid back in 3rd grade that always got himself on trouble just so he could be the center of attraction?
Well, Uber’s exactly that.
The ridesharing giant seems to be enjoying the limelight despite always getting endless controversies. In fact, just last month, Uber has announced to host the biggest IPOs in history. It seems like a harmless act to do, but looking further, it’s just another poor decision that gained criticisms from everyone – including their own drivers.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for all of Uber’s dirty, ridiculous, and alarming controversies. From unethical business strategies to sexual assault allegations, the company definitely is the drama-source of the transportation industry.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of Uber’s top controversies and scandals to date.
The unnecessary (and annoying) surge prices
Most people choose Uber for its cheap fares and prices. But when the demand rises and the surge pricing kicks in, people become understandably upset.
We get it: surge pricing exists to control the demand of customers and motivate more drivers to work. However, there are a few situations in which a surge pricing should be (at least morally) disregarded. Such as when there are strong hurricanes, special and solemn holidays, and much more. Efficient and accessible mobility service is very essential during times of emergencies – but Uber somehow doesn’t understand that.
Many customers went furious during New Year’s Eve last 2012 as Uber raised the prices up to 3-6 times the normal fee. Likewise, prices doubled during Hurricane Sandy right when people needed the service more than ever. Eventually, after taking several complaints, Uber changed the price back to normal while still paying drivers twice the rate.
Over 100 Uber driver got accused of sexual assault or abuse of passengers
Last year of April 30, CNN compiled court records and police reports that revealed over 100 US Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault or abuse of passengers.
The category on itself holds multiple viral scandals on its own, which ranges from racially motivated attacks to sexual harassments. It started way back in 2013. An Uber customer took to Twitter to share her negative experience with an Uber driver. She explained that the driver choked and dragged out of the car by for kissing her “white husband”.
Then, on January of 2014, another Uber driver allegedly called a user a “dirty Mexican f*****”. Furthermore, police later discovered that the driver had a “criminal record, including felony and misdemeanor charges, and at least one felony conviction involving prison time.”
However, this bad and toxic behavior seems to not only come from the company’s drivers, but the actual leader and CEO himself.
Travis Kalanick had made many sexist remarks about women (most particularly, their role in the company). In February of 2014, Kalanick gained scrutiny his casual use of the phrase: Boober (translates to “women in demand”). Afterward, he claims he’d rather go to strip clubs than going to work whenever he’s in Miami. And on 2017, a video showed Kalanick fighting an Uber driver after he opens up about reduced fares. I mean seriously, if that’s how the CEO behaves, then what are we going to expect from Uber?
But perhaps the most controversial scandal the company ever had in terms of abuse was from their very own ex-employee, Susan Fowler. Susan apparently experienced sexual harrassments at Uber and experienced gender bias during her time at the company. She states that a manager suggested that they should have sex. Susan complained to Uber’s human resources department but was dismissed because the manager was of a high profile.
The list goes on and on for Uber.
Uber spent $8 million campaignings to change the laws on their favor
Apparently, Uber expects everyone to work on their favor – the passengers, drivers, and even the law.
On May of 2016, the company, together with Lyft, spent $8 million to repeal a city ordinance requiring the fingerprint-based criminal checks for their drivers. However, both ridesharing companies suffered an embarrassing defeat after community members themselves backed the law and went against Uber’s campaign. After the defeat, both companies pulled out the operations in the city.
This isn’t the first time Uber did something like this. In fact, it seems to be a reoccurring scheme that happens when they don’t get their way. Instead of complying to city rules and follow regulations, they find other places to operate. Either something fishy is going on or the company believes their safety regulations are much better than city laws (spoiler alert: it’s the latter).
The hashtag #DeleteUber stems from two main issues – first, Kalanick agreed to participate in Trump’s business advisory council. Second, the company suspended its surge pricing shortly after a taxi strike in opposition to Trump’s travel ban.
The #DeleteUber movement led to mass account deletions by users upset about the CEO’s ties with Trump. More than 200,000 Uber users deleted their accounts.
The tension quickly escalated when Uber allegedly lifted the surge pricing at JFK International Airport, where thousands of taxi drivers had gathered to protest against the travel ban. People immediately pointed out how this was Uber’s attempt to profit off of the strike, to which the company quickly responded: “We’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet—it was not meant to break up any strike. We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially tonight.”
People were still not satisfied with Uber’s explanation and the #DeleteUber movement eventually ended with Kalanick stepping down from the council.
Uber’s secret weapons: “God View” and “Greyball”
If you think Uber can’t get more illegal, think again. The ridesharing company has admitted to using tools to evade local government authorities and stalk their users. Those tools are called “God view” and “Greyball” respectively.
According to Buzzfeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan, she had been tracked going to a meeting with Uber’s General Manager, Josh Mohrer in an Uber. Mohrer apparently pointed to his phone and said, “I was tracking you”.
The company paid a $200,000 fine after an investigation from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
On March 2017, another report from The New York times revealed that Uber has admitted to using “Greyball” to avoid possible law enforcement agencies in areas where Uber is illegal. After “Greyball” identifies them, Uber will intentionally refuse to provide service.
TL;DR – Uber is CIA’s illegal version.
There are dozens more of Uber controversies that were not included on this list. And if these scandals won’t be enough to put the company out of service (together with the taxi industry’s immense efforts), then their impending bankruptcy probably will.