Uber: A PR Nightmare


The countdown is on until Uber are no longer operating in London. In three days Uber users all over the city will be at a loss on how on earth they are to get home without paying a fortune on a black cab or by risking their lives on the night-bus.

Spare a thought also for the 40,000 Uber drivers who, although working in unsubstantial conditions, will no longer have a job.

I took my first Uber in London only five days into living in this city – Alpha or Delta always being the cheaper option in Liverpool – as it was the most convenient (and probably safest) way to travel past 11pm. Now it looks like I’ll be calling an Addison Lee (I’ve only ever heard of them in that One Direction song) or spending my month’s wages in a black cab. They were only ever used for desperate circumstances in Liverpool.

Where did it all go wrong?

Uber kept dishing out PR blunder after PR blunder right from the very beginning, and they still haven’t stopped. If you ever need a case study on how to handle crisis management, or bad publicity, I’m sure Uber have a library full. If there’s one thing Uber are, they’re consistent.

The height of Uber’s PR train-wreck was when Travis Kalanick, CEO, resigned in June of this year. But let’s take a look at the scandals that led to his resigning and gave Uber the bad reputation that it has today. As Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association recently put it, “This immoral company has no place on London’s streets.”

Crisis Management 101:

They spied on Beyoncé… I mean?!
A former investigator for Uber confessed that the employees regularly spied on celebrities, politicians, their exes and BEYONCÉ.

Their self-driving cars failed due to ‘human-error’
This one puzzled me. There’s no one driving the car, yet the running of red lights and creating hazards in bike lanes wasn’t due to the failure of the technology but due to ‘human error’. Wouldn’t there have to be a human driving the car for it to be human error? Their self-driving scheme failed on the first day due to technology not being up to scratch. Oh and they didn’t even have permits to launch their self-driving scheme, putting other road users, passengers and pedestrians at risk.

The pay problem
This has been one of the major ongoing problems for Uber. The company was forced to pay $20 million in settlements as the company tricked people into driving with false promises about their earnings. Most Uber drivers earned far less than the rates Uber published online in 18 major cities in America.

This one I remember well. During events such as the Manchester bombing and a protest in New York, apparently Uber raised their prices to extreme highs as the need for their services rapidly increased within a small amount of time. Sponging off of the public’s desperation for transport away from chaotic scenes, Uber was met with a viral campaign across social media, ‘#DeleteUber’. The company’s ethics were questioned as local taxi companies started to offer free rides to those caught up in the events.


Friends in all the wrong places
The then CEO, Travis Kalanick was a member of Trump’s advisory council (you really can’t write this stuff) until Uber uses threatened a boycott due to political allegiance. In February of this year, Kalanick resigned from his role in Trump’s army saying, “Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.” Okay…

CE-No from the CE-O
Travis Kalanick was caught arguing with one of his Uber drivers on camera in March of this year when the driver complained about the difficulty of making a living with the company in a declining state. The CEO yelled, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s**t… They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” Kalanick issued an apology and said he intended on getting ‘leadership help’. Too little too late. (Link to video 4:00)

You’re fired
Following investigations into sexual harassment claims, Uber revealed it had fired more than 20 employees in June 2017.

Another one bites the dust
Board member David Bonderman resigned in June after he made a sexist joke during an all-staff meeting about reforming the company and combatting sexual harassment.

After numerous PR nightmares, Travis Kalanick, CEO, finally announced he was stepping down after reportedly facing a lot of pressure to do so from five of Uber’s largest investors. The investors demanded his resignation in a letter personally delivered to Kalanick, according to the New York Times. He will however, remain on the board.

And now, Uber London is to be no more.

Oh Uber, when will it end?


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.