There was a time when I loved Uber. I used Uber to get to class, come home from work, and to come home from parties; basically, I used Uber all the time. I downloaded Uber in the spring of 2013, and I was hooked ever since. It allowed me as a customer to see who my cab driver was, what type of car was coming for me, and where my driver was as he approached my location. In fact, I was a devoted follower of this cab company… until last week when I read a very disheartening article about them, “7 reasons you may want to delete your Uber App,” on the business website MarketWatch.
Among the topics the authors, Sally French and Michelle Coffey, wrote about were how Uber tracks your late night rides (insinuating that they are tracking who you may be sleeping with); an Uber driver was arrested for kidnapping a club goer; Uber sabotaged their competitor Lyft; an Uber driver hit and killed someone, and Uber didn’t take responsibility; you can’t cancel your account in the Uber app; and that an Uber executive suggested allocating 1 million dollars into tarnishing the career of one of the company’s critics.
This information was a surprise to me, and now I believe that we should stop using Uber. But it wasn’t just because I read a negative article. I now have some personal experiences, and they have also helped to change my mind. For one things, there’s the the app: it isn’t worth spending extra money on it, when that money profits a company that received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.
And then there’s this: On Halloween night, I had an Uber ride from hell. My driver picked my friend and me up from a party in Somerville around 2am. Our destination was another party in Mission Hill. We gave our driver the address and he began to head towards Boston. My friend quickly realized that the driver was taking us in circles in order to hike our fare, assuming we were too drunk to notice his maneuvers. We decided to call him out on his erratic driving and the driver got angry with us. We were on Route 93 and he threatened to drop us off on the side of the highway. While my friend and I remained calm, the driver arrogantly boasted to us that he doesn’t “need” to be driving us, and he could be making more money elsewhere. He then added that he would “smack the shit” out of my friend and I if we didn’t shut up. Realizing that we were stuck in the car until he got us to Mission Hill, we kept our mouths shut.
In the morning, we contacted Uber and they refused to give us a full refund for our trip. This is an example of terrible customer service and a display of the arrogance that the company displays from the managers to the drivers. If Uber executives are arrogant enough to try and allocate money into digging up dirt on their critics, it made perfect sense to me that their drivers have it in them to tell customers that they don’t need us. When I heard that an Uber driver had once kidnapped a woman in Los Angeles for over 3 hours, I realized that my awful driver could have easily kidnapped my friend and me, as he was antagonizing us. We were on a highway, with no way out of the car, he could have kept us in the vehicle for hours if he really wanted to. It made me wonder how safe Uber actually is; I have no idea how rigorous the screening process is for Uber drivers (are there background checks?), but I have to imagine it isn’t too thorough, because for a growing company, they need everyone that can possibly get.
After this incident, I talked to a few friends of mine, and found that they too had encountered bad Uber drivers and even had experiences similar to mine, when the driver tries to take advantage of their inebriated state in order to hike up the fare, or a driver made a maneuver so random and wrong that it had to be on purpose. I now believe that Uber takes advantage of its customers.
So last week I decided to purchase a weekly T pass for 19 dollars, and I have to say that although taking public transportation is a pain sometimes, I have already used way more than 19 dollars of metro credit, and I feel a lot better about myself for not blowing close to 100 dollars per week on Uber trips. I agree that Uber is convenient, but to me it’s not worth putting your money into a company that cares so little about their customers. If everyone just sacrifices convenience for a week by buying a T pass, they will realize, just as I have, that it’s not worth it to drain your bank account for a company that wouldn’t even blink an eye if you deleted their app. With the money that I saved from not using Uber for a week, I was able to take my girlfriend out on nicer dates, eat nicer meals than I had been, and still end up with more money in my bank account on a Sunday night than I’ve had all year. Uber may have some positive aspects, but from my personal experience, as well as from the allegations that have been recently brought up against them, I’m happy to take a break from using their app. And I now believe my life is much better without Uber.