The world’s first and largest ride-share company is “uber stressed.” Members of its special investigations unit say complaints from passengers about drivers, and drivers about passengers are coming in too fast, and they can’t handle the workload.
The memo, leaked to CNN, exposes alarming numbers of cases of misconduct and even criminal behavior by UBER drivers, prompting questions about the safety of the service.
Dillon, he asked that we not use his last name, is a rock and roll music artist who drives in his spare time, to make extra money.
“It’s busy during the festival,” he says, as he pulls out and heads up the hill, along Main Street, through the heart of the Sundance Film Festival. Dillon has been an UBER driver for about two years.
“I like to meet new people. Keeps me moving. I’m not much for sitting behind a desk. So you meet different people and have different experiences,” he tells us. We asked if he has ever had a negative experience with a passenger.
“Nope,” he says with a smile. “I like to think I get what I give out, which is an optimistic, positive attitude.”
Dillon admits to having the occasional drunken passenger in his back seat but insists he has never had a confrontation or even a problem with anyone he has picked up. His experience is a stark contrast to what is apparently a growing number of UBER drivers and passengers.
Leaked documents from UBER headquarters, obtained by CNN, reveal an alarming number on complaints of misconduct by UBER drivers, including assaults, sexual assaults, and rapes. The company’s 60 member investigations unit reports more than 1,200 complaints per week are pouring into their office. SIU members themselves are complaining of an oppressive work load, long hours, low pay, and minimal training, to handle complaints of such a serious nature.
Internal records reveal many of the company’s SIU members are in their 20s and 30s, with little or no experience in law enforcement, security, and safety, investigation, or conflict resolution. The documents show at least one of UBER’s investigators worked as a Starbucks barista, before joining UBER. Another was a shift manager at a Chipotle restaurant.
“I spend usually about 12 to 15 hours,” Alexander tells us. He’s another UBER driver who picked us up, on this night.
We asked him the same question. Has he ever had a confrontation with a passenger? He says he has.
“I have to be patient,” he tells us. “I have to be polite to my riders. But sometimes it might be some terrible situation.” Alexander explains that he has picked up people who have had too much to drink and become belligerent.
“I have put them out of my car,” he tells us, explaining UBER’s driver protection policy which allows him to determine when a passenger may pose a threat to him or his vehicle and end the trip. Most of the complaints at headquarters, though, are from passengers, against drivers. Company executives say they are reviewing the information in the leaked report, and implementing changes to better protect passengers.
One is an upgraded app that allows a passenger to sync their ride with a friend or family member, and enable that person to track the passenger’s whereabouts in real time.
It’s another shift in reverse for a company that has had a roller coaster ride, since rolling on to the scene, in March of 1999. Here, at the Sundance Film Festival, the ride-share sponsor is conspicuous, with its pink logos on almost every corner of Park City. It’s Lyft.