The road for the most popular taxi services: Uber, Lyft, and Ola was quite bumpy in 2017. These companies had a rough ride last year because of false advertising scandals, accusations for aggressive tactics and business models based on disrupting old-school taxi services and claims for immoral behavior.
All the same time, all three companies have demonstrated notable dedication to resolving issues and providing excellence to their customers. Let’s go through the interesting timeline of each.
1. Uber Scandals
Uber lost $1.46 billion during the 3rd quarter of 2017 and another $1.1 billion during the fourth, according to The Wall Street Journal and LA Times. What led to that? Uber had been bombarded by a steady stream of negative publicity for several years. Below, there are some of the major Uber controversy cases from 2014 and onwards.
Uber had to confront accusations that it used unethical means to cut into Lyft’s (its competitor) services and profited by booking more than 5,500 fake rides from them.
Uber uses a technology called “God View” that raised serious privacy concerns as it allows the company to track users’ locations. Further down the road, serious Uber app issues will raise from the use of this technology.
Also, there was one more case of Uber controversy when a company manager accessed a reporter’s profile without her permission. At the same time, Uber senior vice president suggested hiring a team of researchers to dig up on journalists that were critical of the company and spread their personal information. An act that he later apologized for.
It had been evidenced that Uber employees abused the God View technology and spied on celebrities (i.e. Beyoncé), executives, and politicians on a regular basis. Another blow came from California regulators, who ordered the company to remove its self-driving vehicles from the streets after been caught on camera running red lights.
Uber said that this was due to a human error, a statement that was later proven false. Plus, Uber had launched a pilot without getting the permit. Moreover, San Francisco cycling advocates expressed their concerns about Uber driverless vehicles creating dangers in bike lanes.
An Uber false advertising scandal came to light when the company tried to mislead drivers about their earnings. The Federal Trade Commission claimed that Uber drivers did not earn the high rates published by the company in 18 US cities. Uber was forced to pay $20 million to settle these allegations.
Another Uber scandal in 2017 had to do with the company increasing surge pricing at a New York airport during a taxi protest. Protestors were complaining about the President’s travel ban at that time. A #DeleteUber campaign went viral and around half a million users were reported to have deleted their Uber accounts.
Uber users threatened a boycott, which forces Uber CEO T. Kalanick to resign from Donald Trump’s advisory council. Kalanick later said that his participation in the council had been misinterpreted and that wasn’t meant to be an endorsement of the president.
The second scandal had to do with a former Waymo employee and head of Uber’s self-driving car unit who had allegedly stolen trade secrets for Uber. Waymo is a driverless car company owned by a Google parent corporation. The engineer was reported to have stolen Google’s autonomous vehicle technology, which later cost him his job at Uber.
A federal investigation was launched after The New York Times had reported that the company used Greyball. This tool was supposedly used to deceive law enforcement officials in cities where Uber services broke the law. Greyball would identify those believed to be carrying out sting operations or working for city agencies and allow Uber drivers to avoid being ticketed.
The company defended its program, saying that it had been designed to deny ride requests to users that were violating the company’s terms of service. Another Uber controversy was logged later that month when CEO was caught yelling at an Uber driver after the Uber driver complains about how difficult he was making a living with Uber’s declining rates.
Kalanick later apologized for his behavior and admitted that he intended to get leadership help. Plus, it was later revealed that New York Uber drivers were indeed underpaid by millions of dollars.
Another Uber secret program (called Hell) was revealed. “Hell” allowed the company to track how many Lyft drivers were available for new rides so that Uber could steer those drivers away.
A top Uber executive got hold of a woman’s medical records after she had filled a report against an Uber driver in India. The executive was fired and the company said it was working with the Indian government to established defined rules on background checks for commercial transport licenses.
However, Pissed Consumer continues to receive Uber customer reviews from frustrated consumers, who talk about Uber app issues (the driver charges more than what the app says), Uber insurance issues, and Uber dangerous navigation system, which appears to wrongly forward drivers.
Like the consumer whose experience we quote below, to traffic-heavy intersections when it should have provided them with a safe alternative:
”...The truth of the matters is that Uber app is very imperfect as far as navigation provided to drivers behind the wheel.
Out of two streets containing traffic lights, uber navigation will make sure to forward the driver to the street in the middle of those two containing a stop sign from which the driver would be requested by the uber navigation to make a left turn and get through the busiest of an intersection where cars are moving at a speed of 40-50 miles per hour.
I call this roller coaster rides where the the driver and the passenger just don't know whether they will be getting through this intercession alive!...”
Although the ride-hailing company has had a long string of missteps, its revenue continues to grow. Perhaps, this is due to the countermeasures the company takes to tackle every issue that appears. For example, after an investigation into the workplace culture, it fired more than 20 employees, which could show good faith on behalf of Uber.
Moreover, the company has announced plans to add more driver-friendly features.
Despite the scandals that make headlines every now and then, Uber is still a superb option for those that wish to be their own boss and set their own schedule.
With Uber’s team addressing each issue that comes up with impressive effectiveness (it hasn’t hesitated to show ill-behaving executives and CEOs the door), it is no wonder that hundreds of thousands new Uber drivers are added to the platform every single month.
17% of which are women and 8% are from military households or veterans, who have earned over $18 million and driven more than 11 million miles since 2014.
2. Lyft Scandals
The San Francisco on-demand transportation company has its own (long) list of Lyft driver complaints and reports related to the Lyft customer service. Starting with a scandal similar to Uber’s God View misconduct, Lyft faced accusations of employees abusing customer insight software called Blind.
It was claimed to spy on passengers (i.e. stalk attractive people that shared a Lyft Line with them, look up celeb’s phone numbers, check where their significant others were riding, etc.).
Another supposed employee reported that Lyft staffers used the workplace app to access private information without the consent of the person. This creates serious concerns about Lyft’s proper data privacy. A Lyft spokesperson confirmed that the company is investigating these claims.
Employees are now required to sign a responsible use and confidentiality agreement that prevents them from using, accessing, or revealing customer data outside the boundaries of their job’s responsibilities.
When it comes to Lyft customer service, Pissed Consumer has a growing number of negative Lyft reviews concerning pricing issues, like this frustrated Lyft consumer who says:
“...When the driver collected us, he passed the entrance to the driveway and almost passed to exit, and he pulled on the side of the street, this was a morning after a rainy night, so naturally the street was mucky.
We walked to the car from the driveway which is covered and was not wet or had no dirt. I later received an email with photos saying that I had been charged $30 for damage. The photos show the dirt off our feet on the car and we were being charged for that...”
There are also Lyft driver reviews that speak of unprofessional behaviors.
Lyft seems to be focused on reducing road congestion and car ownership and is willing to go the extra mile to achieve that. For that reason, it has created partnerships with some of the biggest names in the self-driving industry, including General Motors, Waymo, and Google.
Also, in spite of the problems and accusations, the company’s Economic Impact Report shows that Lyft’s drivers doubled to 1.4 million while the total number of passengers increased to 23 million (92% growth from 2016), which shows that it is trusted by both drivers and customers.
Finally, the ride-sharing company is clearly client-focused if you consider that it has shaken hands with Delta SkyMiles and is now offering a mile for every dollar of a fare.
Not to mention another brilliant partnership it has made with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association as a means to help reduce the number of missed medical (non-emergency) appointments of people living in areas that lack transportation.
3. Ola Scandals
Ola Cabs is an Indian-based online transportation network company that has also hit headlines last year with various serious allegations and claims. Last December, The New Indian Express news portal revealed a case of an Ola cab driver who had demonstrated immoral behavior towards a 23-year-old female passenger inside the vehicle.
When the woman complained to the cab aggregator company the next day after the incident, the driver appeared to have called the passenger, threatening her with unspeakable consequences. The company immediately took action, suspended the driver, and urged the customer to lodge a police complaint, according to an Ola spokesperson.
However, this is not the first time the cab company is in news for a bad employee. Last August, Abhinv Srivastava, a co-founder of Oarth Technologies (acquired by Ola in March 2016), was arrested on charges of Aadhaar data theft, by manipulating confidential details he had found by tapping into the Unique Identification Authority of India database.
Another incident that was also recently reported had to do with another Ola cab driver. This person allegedly stopped the car halfway, while ferrying two women, to talk to some friends he had come across at a secluded location.
Not only did he ignored his passengers’ queries on why he had stopped the vehicle but also threatened the father of one of the ladies over the phone when the latter demanded an explanation for his unethical and unprofessional behavior.
However, aside from problems with its staff and drivers, the Ola Cabs app reviews are quite positive, with the majority of the problems reported having to do with the drivers’ punctuality.
As for the Ola complaints posted on the Pissed Consumer website, they mainly spoke of the company’s poor customer service, like this Ola Cabs troubled consumer that reports:
“...I registered with the help of referral code received from my friend and the ride was supposed to be free. But.I had to pay for the ride.
Not only that if the ride was charged, they should give me cashback or refund but they did not agree and said that the coupon was not applied. But the referral code was shown in offer and free section and that was my first ride...”
Ola is a rapidly growing taxi service which main hardships had to do with their customer service and mobile app. The India-based startup is also the first to enter the unicorn club while the average distance covered by its vehicles is more than 40 million kilometers per day – this is like going to the Moon and back 10 times in the 24-hour day, which is impressive.
As for its drivers’ unprofessional behaviors, Ola is now teaching its drivers how to interact with customers.
All three ride-sharing networks appear to have the same core mission – to circumvent the substandard and expensive service of monopoly cab companies by providing cheaper, taxi-like services and newer vehicles. With a clear focus on excellent customer service and a great workplace environment run by strict security regulations, all three will be able to deliver on their visions and missions the best possible way.
- false advertising scandals
- Lyft customer service
- Lyft driver complaints
- Lyft scandals
- Ola Cabs app reviews
- Ola Cabs reviews
- Ola issues
- Uber app complaints
- Uber insurance issues
- Uber reviews
- Uber scandals
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.