Slanging and Slogging: Why you should care about Uber’s business practices
In the battle between ride sharing services, on which side do you land on?
If you’ve considered the merits of Lyft vs. Uber in the past, how did you decide which company to ultimately go with? Obviously, the availability and reliability of the service matters, so does the cost and feeling safe, but how much did you factor in the ethics of the company’s operation?
In my opinion, there’s a huge gap between Lyft and Uber in regards to how they carry themselves. I don’t think even the most die-hard Uber fans would deny that Lyft has more of conscience than Uber. In Travis Kalkanick’s pursuit of domination, it’s become clear that the CEO’s attitude has trickled down throughout the company; making Lyft the crystal clear (and easy) choice for my rideshare needs.
If you haven’t been following the war between the two leaders in ride sharing, then I would like to point you to this piece by The Verge. The article details Uber’s unethical jamming of Lyft’s service so they can gain the upper hand. Take a read at some excerpts from the piece to get a sense of Uber’s at-all-costs approach to competition.
The ground troops in Uber’s sabotage campaign are the company’s ambassadors, some of whom it hires through TargetCW, a San Diego-based employment agency. The primary goal is to recruit riders, not drivers, and Uber calls the activity “slanging.” But since at least mid-summer, some brand ambassadors in New York have been turning their talents against Lyft.
The special ongoing project had a different codename: SLOG. Contractors in New York who responded to the “special ongoing project” message were invited to individual hour-long meetings with Uber marketing managers, who had traveled from Los Angeles and Washington, DC, to New York to oversee the team’s creation.
With Lyft’s arrival in New York imminent, Uber said it was creating a “street team” charged with gathering intelligence about Lyft’s launch plans and recruiting their drivers to Uber. Contractors were then handed two Uber-branded iPhones and a series of valid credit card numbers to be used for creating dummy Lyft accounts. Uber assumed every contractor would be caught by Lyft eventually; the second phone, according to a contractor interviewed by The Verge, was issued so “you would have a backup phone if and when that happened so you wouldn’t have to go back.” A follow-up email outlined the process for recruiting Lyft drivers in detail. It emphasizes the importance of requesting rides from different physical locations so as not to arouse Lyft’s suspicions, suggests methods of recruiting, and outlines the process for signing up drivers on Uber’s platform.
A company that considers these type of business practices okay should be concerned. Particularly in these critical couple of years that determine the market leader in ride sharing. Do you really want to support a company that stoops to these tactics?
Don’t care? Doesn’t matter? If Uber’s company culture is built on these shady practices now, imagine a more powerful Uber — what kind of tricks will they pull on the consumer as the major, or only, player in the game? Let me remind you of PayPal, Walmart, and Ticketmaster — these companies have horrible reputations but because they have a stranglehold on their respective industries, they can take advantage of their market lead with very little damage to their bottom line.
Don’t let Uber become another PayPal or Ticketmaster — heed the red flags now and support the service that not only provides the best product, but does so that aligns with your conscience.
I’ll leave you with one last paragraph from the Verge article:
After Uber became aware that The Verge was asking questions, Target CW sent out multiple emails warning contractors that talking to the press violated a non-disclosure agreement they signed when they joined.
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