Oooooh, Sneaky, Uber!

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Fine print alert!

Uber, the controversial  ride-sharing giant, quietly changed its terms of service to foist mandatory arbitration on its users. This is a common tactic of large corporations lately, taking away consumers’ rights to sue when they are harmed due to negligence. Arbitration is often full of hidden biases, with a natural  financial motivation for less-than-ethical arbitrators to tilt in the direction of the companies that pay them.

The change means that a passenger injured in an Uber vehicle due to its driver’s negligence would be required to arbitrate any claims for personal injuries before the American Arbitration Association, because the passenger had technically agreed to the terms and conditions of the Uber contract every passenger must accept. How would  long-time customers know about the change from the original Uber conditions? They wouldn’t, unless they regularly cruised the company’s website.

On July 29, 2016, Judge Rakoff from the Southern District of New York ruled that the notice of Uber arbitration terms was not sufficient to let riders know that  they were waiving the right to sue, and thus the mandatory arbitration provision was unenforceable. Uber’s response was to send an email to its users, announcing that it was updating its terms effective November 21, 2016.  Uber also instructed its users to read the new Terms and stated it had “revised our arbitration agreement.”  Now they have you, because Uber users can no longer claim that they didn’t know about the new terms. When you use the service, you are stuck. You have waived the right to sue.

There is a large “but,” however.

An Uber user can still reject the November 21, 2016 Terms by providing Uber with written notice by mail, by hand delivery or by email within 30 days of November 21, 2016. Like many companies, Uber’s “notice” consists of a hard-to-find section on its website. The mechanics of rejecting the new terms information are virtually buried on Uber’s legal page, and read, Continue reading

Hey Uber: Shut Up And Drive.

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Uber, the transportation networking company, now subjects customers seeking to book a ride to a directive calling on them to think about gun violence before they continue the process. When users open the Uber app, they see a message reading, “Our hearts go out to the victims of this week’s terrible gun violence….As we move around our cities this weekend, let’s take a moment to think about what we can do to help.”  Thusly:

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Okay, here’s what Uber can do to help. Stop referring to law enforcement action, even if it’s excessive, as “gun violence.” Stop referring to racially motivated hits, like the murder of the Dallas police officers, as “gun violence,” as if in some alternate universe where there are no guns, Micah Johnson would have hurled spitballs at the officers to show his contempt. In fact, Uber can shut up entirely.

And stop suggesting that the shooting of two individuals in a police confrontation is equivilent to the assassination of five police officers. How despicable.

We saw this kind of arrogant, obnoxious abuse of the customer/service relationship when Starbucks decided it was appropriate to challenge its customers to have dialogue with 20-something barristas about race. Uber knows how to get me to my destination, supposedly. It has no more expertise regarding social and law enforcement policies than my mail carrier, and if he tells me to take a minute to think about gun violence before I can get my mail, I’m telling him to go to hell.

Uber is showing disrespect for its customers and its customers’ time. The company has no right to rob me of a single moment to force-feed me its anti-gun chairman’s political views, and I would say the same if they were pro-gun sentiments. It’s unethical to make me a captive audience for ten minutes, five minutes, a minute or a second. I’m calling for a ride, not indoctrination, not presumptuous attempted enlightenment, not to be told to save the whales, reduce my carbon foot print, vote for Hillary, or think about gun violence.  Continue reading