22 May 2015

Philadelphia City Paper: “I was an undercover Uber driver”

Driving for UberX isn’t the worst-paying job I’ve ever had. I made less scooping ice cream as a 15-year-old, if you don’t adjust for inflation. If I worked 10 hours a day, six days a week with one week off, I’d net almost $30,000 a year before taxes.

But if I wanted to net that $90,000 a year figure that so many passengers asked about, I would only have to work, let’s see…

27 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Emily Guendelsberger

Brutal. The situation is about to get worse still, as Uber is increasing the commission to squeeze more money out of its drivers. As they increasingly compete on cheaper prices instead of better experience, is it any wonder that Uber is quickly turning into just another taxi company?

Undercover Uber driver Philadelphia

Uber launched a Bucharest branch about three months ago, so I couldn’t pass the chance to try them out, taking advantage of their launch promotion. Reading the article, I was surprised how much of the ‘Uber experience’ matched the script described here – for example the bottled water. The app had its share of issues though, it loaded very slowly and the driver had to quit it to start the ride. And the destination address the driver received was different than the one I typed, showing a street number that would have left me pretty far from home. The driver was also a beginner, on his first day working with Uber and me his third passenger, so there wasn’t much he could share about previous experiences.

I haven’t used Uber since and last week as I opened the app I was greeted with a message saying that my account had been disabled and I should contact them by email. A strange practice, blocking customers without a single notice or explanation. I guess it happened because my card expired and I neglected to update it, but I still think any serious company would at least send an email first. Demanding me to write an email when I don’t even know what I’ve done wrong seems very user-unfriendly. Restoring locked accounts should be done inside the app, stating clearly what was the reason for the account suspension. I decided I can’t waste my time with a company that clearly doesn’t respect its users, so I just deleted the app. Although the email exchange would probably make for an funny experience.

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