Uber’s investigation team has been under a lot of heat these past few weeks. Recently, Uber revealed that they are no longer forwarding criminal reports to the authorities – even if these include sexual harassment. Now, a new controversy is haunting the giant ride-sharing company.
The Crawford Global Technical Services handles Uber’s customer and driver complaints. However, the third-party claims company is allegedly handing off riders’ personal information without seeking their permission, or even informing them.
22-year-old Madison McArthur remembered reporting a rape complaint against an Uber driver who raped her on her way home from a bar in Sacramento, California in August. Three days later, she received a call from Crawford Global Technical Services asking for the same details she already had given to the police.
“I’m like, ‘Who the hell are you? I’m already talking to so many people right now,’ ” she said. ” ‘I’ve already talked to Uber. Why are you calling me?’”
She thought nothing of it at first, but the man was persistent. He called or emailed five times over nine days.
Uber’s spokesman Andrew Hasbun defended the company’s decision to hire a third-party claims company. According to him, it is common practice for companies; Uber isn’t the only company that has a claims administrator like Crawford.
“We have long believed that victims would feel more comfortable working with a 3rd party rather than Uber directly,” Mr. Hasbun wrote. Still, Uber acknowledged McArthur’s case was mishandled and said she should not have been contacted so soon.
Uber, as well as Lyft, has long been criticized for their poor driver screening system and ineffective solutions to sexual harassment complaints from their customers. Women expressed their frustrations over how long it takes for both companies to remove drivers who face serious accusations. Furthermore, they claim that the rideshare giants intent on protecting their reputation over that of riders.
Meanwhile, McArthur believes Crawford contacted her so quickly because they wanted to secure a settlement before she had obtained a lawyer, hoping to keep what had happened to her under wraps.
“When somebody is just going through this… why would you feel the need to go after them in such an aggressive manner?” McArthur questioned. “Unless you’re trying to basically attack and silence the victim.”
Furthermore, the agents’ timing and persistence were leaving victims ‘uneasy’ about the company’s intentions.
In fact, 21-year-old Makenna Simianer was contacted by Crawford the same day a California judge agreed to allow press coverage of the hearing in her driver’s criminal case.
The incident happened on April 26, when Ms. Simianer ordered an Uber to her dad’s house in Santa Maria, California. Instead, the driver detoured to his house and brought a shot of liquor out to the car for her. She apparently has little memory about what happened afterward, and that includes walking into a motel room, him on top of her, waking up to him sitting in a chair.
According to her, she then received an email from a Crawford agent stating that he was investigating her May 22 Uber ride. The problem is, that wasn’t the right date. Instead, it was the date the media first covered her case after authorities arrested the suspect, Shadi Abdul Aziz, at the Mexico border.
Ms. Simianer did not respond to the Crawford agent. Then, only a month ago, a family friend revealed that a man in a suit showed up at her father’s house.
According to the family friend, the man introduced himself as an Uber representative. The agent allegedly said he was looking for information about Ms. Simianer and her case, and offered him $10,000 to work with Uber against Ms. Simianer.
In line with this allegation, both Uber and Crawford denied, saying it is neither company’s policy to conduct in-person visits.
“We vehemently deny this disturbing allegation,” Uber said in its statement.
Ms. Simianer said she had no idea that is what the Crawford representative was calling about.
“He could have told me, ‘I would like to help you out and help you with therapy.’ He could have given me at least a hint of what he wanted to discuss,” she said. “But from what was in the email and what came out of his mouth, all he wanted to hear was what happened.”