With every dollar we spend, we're essentially voting for the companies and products we want to succeed. Mix this attitude with activism, and we have the power to affect change across entire industries; the #DeleteUber movement is a prime example.
But boycotts come and go. It's common for a company to suffer a small dip in sales immediately following public outrage only to see them rise again months later. It happens — we forget the reason behind our indignation, we're busy and need the most convenient option, we're inundated with information, we want the cheapest fare, and our resolution slips.
If you've thought about deleting the Uber app from your phone but haven't followed through because you've forgotten what all the fuss is about or can't imagine life without the ride-sharing service, continue reading. The list that follows is not only a reminder of the reasons you should kick Uber to the curb, but also a lineup of the worthy alternatives that will get you from here to there.
Top-down misogyny is not your thing.
On Feb. 19, 2017, Susan Fowler's scorched-earth exposé blew the lid off Uber's misogynistic culture to reveal an unhealthy working environment where unwanted sexual advances and gender discrimination were ignored by executives and HR.
In 2014, on a business trip to South Korea, Uber's upper management team reportedly took an off-hours field trip to an escort bar where male executives picked women out of a lineup. The story became public in March 2017 after Travis Kalanick's then-girlfriend, Gabi Holzwarth, who was present at the time, spoke with reporters, noting she had been asked to lie about the incident.
On Feb. 27, 2014, GQ magazine published a profile of Kalanick where he bragged to the reporter about his newfound ability to attract women as the founder of a successful startup. He called it the "Boob-er" effect.
"Who said women don't know how to drive?" were the literal words used to market a promotion Uber ran. The promotion was with an app called Avions de Chasse (French for "hot chicks"), which connected male riders with female models turned drivers.
- Earlier this year, a reporter from The New York Times interviewed 30 current and former Uber employees to discover an "unrestrained" workplace. The most shocking testimonies came from employees who asked to remain nameless due to fear of retaliation: "One Uber manager groped female co-workers' breasts at a company retreat in Las Vegas. A director shouted a homophobic slur at a subordinate during a heated confrontation in a meeting. Another manager threatened to beat an underperforming employee's head in with a baseball bat."
Privacy matters to you.
In December 2016, Ward Spangenberg, a former information security officer for Uber, revealed the ways employees abused the company's "God View" tool, thereby violating users' privacy. According to the Spangenberg's testimony, "High-profile politicians, celebrities and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and ex-spouses" were monitored. He also noted that the company stores data in an insecure manner, leaving both drivers and customers susceptible to a breach.
In November 2014, Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael proposed to hire top opposition researchers to look into the personal lives and families of journalists who spoke out against the company, effectively giving "the media a taste of its own medicine."
As of November 2016, the Uber app is collecting more of your data than you may realize. From the moment you request a ride until five minutes after drop off, the app tracks your location and collects other personal information while it's running in the background. In a statement to POPSUGAR, Uber told us "Collecting this data from when the rider requests a trip until five minutes after the trip has finished will help with ETAs, pick-ups, efficiency on POOL and passenger safety." However, you can opt out of the feature and still use Uber.
You think diversity is important.
- Uber is not alone in its lack of diversity, but it is a crucial component to shifting the company's culture. Up until March 2017, Kalanick refused to make Uber's demographic data public. However, under pressure from activists, the company released its first diversity report and it revealed a workforce that is overwhelmingly white and male. The company's technical leadership in the US is entirely white and Asian and 88.7 percent male. Just 15.4 percent of the technical staff globally is women, while black people and Latinos account for one percent and 2.1 percent of tech staff in the US.
You've lost faith in "independent" investigations.
- In February 2017, Uber hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an independent review of the issues raised by Susan Fowler in addition to looking at diversity and inclusion concerns more broadly. However, just like another investigation that's been making headlines this year, it's hard not to question whether the results of Uber's internal investigation into the company's culture of harassment and discrimination can be trusted when there's an inherent conflict of interest. Anytime the investigator is being paid by the "investigatee," there's the potential for cover-up.
Some rules were not meant to be broken.
Adhering to traffic lights isn't a law meant to be broken. However, in December 2016, Uber showed a blatant disregard for public safety by testing self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco without a permit. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the self-driving cars were caught running red lights. It's also worth noting Uber did comply with the California DMV after the state revoked the registration of its autonomous vehicles.
And then there's the company's lie, cheat, and steal strategy to getting ahead in a crowded marketplace. Uber is currently in a lawsuit battle with Waymo, an Alphabet-owned company, alleging that a former engineer "stole 14,000 confidential documents" that were used to create a similar product at Uber.
You care about workers' rights.
- Uber has been drowning in a sea of never-ending lawsuits with its drivers for years. From the company's beginning, it has challenged drivers in their fight to be recognized as employees entitled to the right to assemble, among other benefits. It's no wonder a report released on April 20, 2017, reveals that Uber's driver retention rate is on the rise. A year after signing up, only four percent of drivers are still using the service, citing low pay and the inability to accept tips as their top reasons.
- It also doesn't help that Kalanick got into a heated argument with an Uber driver in February, stating, ". . . some people don't like to take responsibility for their own sh*t. They blame everything in their life on somebody else."
- In April 2017, The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed the widow of a former Uber engineer who killed himself, claiming her husband wasn't himself after going to work for the company. "He'd say things like, 'My boss doesn't like me.' His personality changed totally; he was horribly concerned about his work. He was saying he couldn't do anything right." His family has also alleged that he may have experienced racism on the job.
You have options.
Fortunately, there is life after Uber. It may be the biggest player in the game, but it certainly isn't the only one. Here's a list of five other ride-sharing services that are worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
The pink mustache is definitely an option. Lyft is Uber's main competitor and works similarly, so this may be your best bet for a seamless transition.
Available in Washington DC; Chicago; Portland, OR; and the San Francisco Bay Area, Getaround is an on-demand car rental service that allows you to rent anything from a Honda to a Mercedes Benz sans paperwork. It's also a good way to make some extra money while your own car sits unused.
And don't discount public transportation as a reliable option! Your tax dollars make public transit possible, so take advantage of this resource and strike up a conversation with others living in your city.