Five of the Stupidest Things Uber Has Ever Done



Uber continues to make poor decisions in its response to increasingly grotesque actions by its executives. Despite being valued at $40 billion, the San Francisco-based car service company frequently angers people with buffoon-like statements in response to constant public scorn.  

Nearly universally disliked—yet seemingly still used by the entire universe on a daily basis—it doesn’t look like Uber’s poor decisions will subside anytime soon.

Here’s our list of the five worst things that Uber has done. Warning: some of this content may be disturbing.

5. Price surging in New York and Toronto

It was a crisp New Year’s Day morning when most of the Internet first caught word of Uber’s surge pricing, or otherwise charging a lot of money when demand is at its highest. Following intense backlash, Uber offered to refund some customers who had been charged over $100.

The concept, called “dynamic pricing,” is a mainstay across countless industries, used everywhere from the airline industry to the National Hockey League. Most other industries generally choose to steer clear of unavoidable human disasters or tragedies. Not Uber.

In October of that same year, the company introduced surge pricing when Hurricane Sandy rocked New York, shutting down subways. The company upped pricing 2x to incentivize more drivers to get on the roads, which inevitably produced a backlash. It’s probably safe to say humans shouldn’t be driving during these times, and those who need rides shouldn’t have to pay more.

And then there was Toronto. Uber introduced surge pricing on April 9, 2013, the day a massive storm struck Toronto. Four inches of rain poured down on the city in almost an instant, causing power losses, submerging cars, and flooding streets. As a result, Uber’s rate nearly doubled (1.75 times) with a $26 minimum fare.

In response, Uber Toronto’s general manager Billy Guernier seemed to indirectly blame drivers who didn’t want to work amid unsafe conditions, while self-congratulating the company’s decision-making.

“When drivers choose not to work, our system stops working and getting a car isn’t an option – none will be available. As a result of surge pricing, we kept more supply on the road,” he said. 

Torontonians did not like this.


4. Sabotaging Competitors

On January 24 of this year, Uber issued an official apology after Valleywag and TechCrunch revealed that Uber employees in New York City deliberately ordered rides from Gett, a newly established competitor, only to cancel them later. The company allegedly wasted competing drivers’ time to obstruct legitimate customers from securing a car, and offered drivers incentives—including cash—to join Uber.

CNN Money reported in August 2014 that 177 Uber employees had ordered and cancelled approximately 5,560 rides with Lyft, a competitor, since October 2013. Lyft said it found links to Uber recruiters by cross-referencing the phone numbers involved.

The report identified one Lyft passenger who canceled 300 rides from May 26 to June 10, 2014, and was identified as an Uber recruiter by seven different Lyft drivers. Uber never issued an apology, but suggested in a statement on its website that the recruitment attempts were possibly independent parties trying to make money.

Meanwhile, Business Insider revealed that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick admitted to deliberately trying to sabotage Lyft’s fundraising efforts.


3. JournoSpyGate

In mid November, BuzzFeed reported that a senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalist.

Particularly, the suggestion took aim at Sarah Lacy, PandoDaily’s editor who has been highly critical of the company’s corporate culture as it relates to allegations of sexism.


4. Multiple Rape Allegations and the Company’s Response

Uber hasn’t yet responded to an alleged rape last week in India by one of its driver’s that led the Delhi region to completely ban the service.

It did, however, issue an automatic response after a scary incident in Los Angeles left people furious.

In October, instead of taking a female passenger home an UberX driver took her on a “nightmare ride to an abandoned lot,” according to Gawker. She was taken almost 20 miles out of her way while the driver allegedly ignored her questions and directions. She tried to exit the car after her driver parked in a dark, empty parking lot, and he was accused of locking the doors, trapping her inside.

The driver eventually drove her home after she began screaming.

“In response, she received only an ‘automated’ email reply apologizing for the ‘inefficient route,’” wrote the media outlet. “The passenger’s fare was partially refunded, with no acknowledgement of the fact that she was basically … kidnapped.”


1. The #SydneySeige Surge Pricing

It’s unthinkable that the company could ever consider instituting its notorious price-hike during a time when two people were killed during a horrific hostage scene. They did just that on Monday, during the “#SydneySeige,” in which a gunman held hostages for about 17 hours before police stormed the location.

The two slain hostages were Katrina Dawson, a Sydney lawyer and mother of three children, and Tori Johnson, the manager of the café in which the hostage took place.

As a result of significant online backlash, the company quickly posted on its blog that it was refunding those rides and offering free ones.

Along with our top five, a significant amount of alleged bad behavior on the part Uber drivers has surfaced over the years, as explained in this DailyDot article.