Since my last post on this topic, Uber has been back in the news regarding the safety of its service.
In Delhi, in response to the report of an alleged rape by one of its drivers, Uber announced that it is taking additional steps to screen drivers. Uber has hired a “local team of specially-trained safety experts” to help ensure that its drivers are submitting proper background documents. One of the problems that has been noted in India is the unreliability of background checks and documentation, which is frequently forged and inaccurate. Among the additional measures announced by Uber is a re-check of its existing drivers to ensure that they have “authentic and valid police verification.” Uber has also updated its software in India to include a photo of the driver when a rider chooses to share their trip information with a friend. These additional measures were disclosed in a Transportation Department hearing last week to determine whether Uber (and others) should be allowed to operate. Following the hearing, Delhi reinstated Uber to operate there.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, an Uber passenger held a press conference with his attorney last week to discuss his alleged assault two weeks ago by an UberX driver. The passenger claims his face was battered with a hammer by the driver. The passenger claims he had a concussion, multiple face fractures and needs facial reconstruction surgery as a result of the assault. The passenger’s attorney is claiming that Uber is liable for the actions of its drivers, including the UberX drivers, who are non-professional drivers who offer rides in their personal vehicles. One angle of legal attack is that the passenger was charged $1 for a “safety” fee. The lawyer claims that charging such a fee proves that Uber bears responsibility for safety of its customers.
A class action was filed last week in federal court in San Francisco against Uber over the $1 “Safe Rides Fee” for UberX customers. The lawsuit alleges that Uber misrepresents the fee to its customers, as well as misrepresents the nature of its background checks and safety measures. The Uber site states that the “Safe Rides Fee” is meant to “ensure the safest possible platform for Uber riders and drivers,” including background checks and vehicle safety checks. The attorneys claim that Uber provides its customers a “false sense of security.”
An additional concern has come to light in Dallas. A warning was issued recently to beware of imposter drivers who are trying to take advantage of the Uber service’s popularity. One customer reported that he was approached by someone in a black car who announced he was an Uber driver. After he got in the car, the driver told him he had to pay in cash. Since the customer knew that was incorrect, he became concerned. Then the actual Uber driver called him to announce his arrival to pick him up. Uber has reminded customer’s to rely on the safety features of its service. The drivers use text messages to let customers know when the car arrives. Customers also receive a photo of the driver, and a license plate number for the vehicle.
For more, see The Daily Beast list of the 10 worst Uber horror stories. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/19/the-ten-worst-uber-horror-stories.html.