A Brief History of The Troubles of Uber
After the news that President Jeff Jones left Uber after only 6 months of service, you begin to wonder where exactly the company can go. As we all know, they are often in the news for mainly the wrong reasons; claims of underpaying and misleading employees, reams of allegations over sexual harassment, and, especially in the UK, the potential poor quality of their drivers. However, even with a PR rap list as long as your arm, the service still boasts over 1 million rides booked every day.
Jones was bought in to fix their broken image, which is slowly becoming less and less sparkling with every passing day. But last week, he issued a statement along with his resignation from the position of COO, seemingly addressing his distaste with the company; “It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride-sharing business.” – but just how did they get to that point?
The chief criticism of Uber stems from it’s perceived takeover of the private taxi world. It’s technological convenience and ability to undercut local institutions such as the London Black Cabs on a price point was a serious point of contention. The ability for any driver with a car that meets ‘Uber’ standards and the successful application of a private hire licence to provide a taxi service caused outrage in the black cab community.
Taxi drivers are subject to much more stringent checks and examinations – including full criminal records and DBS checks and knowledge exams – which has lead to the assertions that Uber drivers aren’t fit to deliver the service, and has become a regular bone of contention, with many twitter feeds dedicated to pointing out the failures of Uber drivers – often turning down one-way roads, causing crashes or showing post-trip maps taking customers on overly convoluted routes.
Obviously, these aren’t Uber’s only downfalls. There have been multiple issues with the method through which they classify their ‘employees’ as ‘contractors’ and therefore are under no obligation to pay them a wage or offer benefits. Multiple reports of unsafe driving, using the UberDriver app while in control of the vehicle to accept other rides and calls have bought their vetting and reports system under huge scrutiny.
The corporate culture is also a severe issue and is alleged to be Jeff Jones’ catalyst for leaving the company. It has regularly been described as ‘Game Of Thrones’, with an endless stream of the encouraging of underhanded tactics to get ahead of competition and evade government officials or whistleblowers has earned them the reputation of a terrible company to work for.
This has included CEO Travis Kalanick aggressively berating one of the company’s own drivers in an argument about falling fares and the company’s alleged mass cover up of the sexual harassment of female Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler.
Amidst all of this, it’s no wonder that the man hired to clean up Uber’s public image quit after only 6 months. There have been multiple campaigns to curb Uber’s activities both internally, and as a practicing taxi company – chiefly resulting in them losing a court case to no longer classify their drivers as ‘contractors’ in the UK – but they’re showing no signs of slowing down. What do you envision the future of Uber to be?