Just after my first ride with Uber, they blocked me for no reason. I had Lyft app too on my phone, and I never bothered to correct the situation with Uber. Well, it was not due to laziness, though a lot for the reason that I had started liking Lyft’s service, and detesting Uber because of a lot of hear-say things, facts, experiences, etc. which I could not ignore after a point. There is a lot of legal stuff that Uber is trying to juggle with. I am not going to bite my tongue for having used the word “hear-say” because it’s mostly from the horse’s mouth – the drivers of their competitors.
- Uber is banned from operating in Delhi, India: Would I like to feel safe when using a cab service (or sharing a ride, whatever in the hell it means)? Hell yes, I would. If I have to pay to a service that says that they are “safe”, I would expect not just a careful driver, but also someone who does not make me feel unsafe for being a girl, especially when I am travelling alone at night. I could be taking a ride back from my school, or from a club. That does not matter. I have at many occasions felt completely unsafe with some obnoxious drivers, and even reported them. Does a reason like that warrant Uber’s ban in India? May be, may be not. They might have looked into their operational facts before taking the decision. I just hope that Indian Police Service does not get away with this one, playing the blame game.
- Uber vs others: Uber probably got into trouble in some European countries because cartels seemingly attacked them where they tried to give the cheapest rates ever, just enough to run their business. Will I always pick a service that is unbelievably cheap, just because it is unbelievably cheap (to try to monopolize its business), and turn a blind eye to all its other aspects? May be if I am completely broke. Even in that case, I would try to bail, to use public transportation. So would other informed citizens, I believe.
- Customers rate drivers, and drivers rate customers too: That’s sweet. But do I see the drivers representing the company, especially when they are scared of getting low rates from the customers and become extremely chatty (if they get very low rates, they are banned from driving with Uber, or penalized in some way), customers who themselves can be obnoxious, and when drivers think they are in it just for money, and not because they love driving people from one place to another? Well, these may sound like first world problems, but anyway, my answer to this is – no.
- Uber may be treating customers fine, but how are they treating their drivers?: I happened to get a ride from a Lyft driver, who claimed that he was Uber’s first driver in Boston. After that he told me that Uber treats their drivers like shit, and a lot of Uber drivers are moving to Lyft. Uber app is pretty good, but if you have used Lyft app, you will know that it is pretty good as well. A lot of drivers get to appreciate it, because it contacts drivers in the vicinity and if they are not close, it simply does not send them. Well, a person waiting for a cab might suffer because of this. But this is what happens on the other end – drivers have to travel all the way if they get picked by the app. They hate this. They also hate going to certain areas where they expect the customers to be obnoxious. Also, Uber has reduced rates so much, that it becomes difficult for these drivers to sustain themselves. They have evolved against their own wish to cheat the system – keep the app off when you want to avoid a ride. Keep it on at prime time. Some Lyft drivers have told me that Lyft customers are better than Uber customers. You see, it works both ways.
- Uber helps driver buy a car: Is that a good thing? Not necessarily. It does not care so much about the credit history of the applications, and it advertises so openly. Is that a good thing? Be the judge. About the interest rates on loans – they are definitely a little shady.
- Uber is unethical at many levels: When Lyft had entered the market, Uber would book the Lyft cars, only to cancel them at the 11th hour. They did this a lot of times to create false traffic, until they got caught. Way to go.
- Uber and Lyft are not taxi services, but transportation network companies: That is fine. If a business or technology is disruptive in good ways, it’s great. It will definitely face a lot of problems from the existing systems that it is trying to replace, true. But here’s what: these companies do not consider themselves to be in taxi service. But that is proving for them to run into legal issues. Uber has been audacious enough for asking the laws to fix themselves up. The problem is, an Uber of Lyft driver, when on the job, has rendered his car insurance void. Technically, the driver is on business, and no one is going to cover for their insurance. I have no words for that kind of risk.
These things might seem secondary, or unnecessary for a business to worry about. Especially for someone as aggressive as Uber. But these are exactly the things that go a long way. They are a giant, and it’s very difficult to budge one. We have examples in history. But there are things to learn, from these examples. Also, we have all sorts of examples for stupid arrogance as well.