Uber is not a public company. You can’t buy stock in Uber or invest in them unless you’re a venture capitalist. They want to become a public company soon, but right now, Uber is busy raising billions of dollars from private investors, developing self-driving cars, and shuttling millions around the world.
Though millions of people use Uber, the company has a “fair” reputation at best with consumers. This prevents the ride-sharing service from entering certain markets or wooing customers in others. It is also one of the reasons why the company loses billions of dollars a year.
This past weekend, thousands of now-former Uber users deleted their accounts and posted the proof on social media. This was in direct response to the company’s actions on a few issues related to President Trump, including his recent immigration ban. But what did Uber do to anger their customers and have them rally against the company?
Uber permitted cabs to arrive and leave JFK during a taxi strike.
Many view President Donald Trump’s immigration/refugee ban as unconstitutional and offensive. Hundreds of thousands around the country protested the recent ban at international airports, rallying and challenging Trump’s executive order and claiming it specifically targeted Muslims. The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, the biggest taxi company in New York and the employer of thousands of Muslim immigrants, temporarily banned their cabs from going to JFK Airport as a show of solidarity for all immigrants and refugees.
When the ban was in place, Uber opted to remove their surge pricing around JFK, a practice that temporarily gouges the price of an Uber fare when cabs are most in demand. This incentivized Uber users to take Uber cabs to or from JFK, as traditional yellow cabs were purposely avoiding the area. Many people viewed this as Uber capitalizing on the lack of yellow cabs while undermining the taxi ban. The company did apologize for their actions and donated money to the ACLU, but this might be too little, too late for some people.
Uber’s CEO is a Trump ally.
Travis Kalanick is on President Trump’s business council. He previously spoke about trying to work with Trump and any leader willing to “[make] transportation in cities better, creating job opportunities, [make] it easier to get around…” Some see this as Uber PR speak and believe the company will do anything and everything to enter every market, corner said markets, and essentially control travel outside of public transit. Some opposed to Trump are just generally incensed and opposed to anyone working with him, too.
People view Uber as anti-worker.
Uber takes around 30% from drivers — a substantial amount — without offering the option for customers to tip. The company also treats their drivers as independent contractors, which means Uber doesn’t have to offer benefits and avoids the responsibility for certain payroll taxes. At the same time, Uber is developing self-driving cars to eventually replace drivers in the future, something the company has been very vocal about. While they might be creating jobs now, they’re not the greatest jobs, and they won’t be around forever when they can be replaced by robots.
Others view Uber as uncaring about anything or anyone other than their own profits.
Uber has a reputation for fighting against local, state, and federal governments for the sake of their own profits. When the city of Austin claimed Uber was not legally allowed to conduct business within city limits, Uber did so anyway. In December, Uber launched a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco despite not legally being allowed to do so. It was later discovered that their self-driving cars were running red lights. Uber has shown time and time again that they will do whatever they want, regardless of laws or consumer safety.
Should you stick with Uber? That’s entirely up to you. The company has a reputation for quick, accessible, and easy rides, but they also anger entire cities through questionable business practices and decisions.
If you feel that this issue is unnecessarily politicized, feel free to stick with Uber as your car sharing service of choice. If you’re deeply offended by the company’s actions (or inactions), consider deleting your account while giving Lyft or Juno a try.