Nobody likes Uber anymore

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is having a rough 2017.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is having a rough 2017.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
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The public is not happy with Uber. Incensed by allegations of sexism and harassment in the company’s corporate halls, people are once again #deleting Uber, while one-star ratings and withering critiques of its service are piling up in Apple’s iOS App Store.

From Jan. 1 through Feb. 22, Uber accumulated 4,479 one-star reviews from US users in the iOS App Store, according to data from analytics firm App Annie (the highest possible rating is five stars). The biggest surge in negative reviews occurred on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, after Uber was accused of attempting to disrupt a New York taxi-worker strike against US president Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.” That backlash launched #deleteUber and helped Uber amass 2,398 one-star reviews from US users in the iOS App Store over just two days.

Several of the most recent reviews cite the horrifying and explosive account of sexual harassment published by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler over the weekend. “Was harassed and scammed by an Uber driver for two hours in the car,” reviewer “Jorwl” wrote on Feb. 20. “Uber refused to address the situation or investigate the driver responsible…Since then, Uber’s national scandals regarding the New York taxi strike and now sexual harassment in the workplace have only confirmed that this company has an unacceptable way of treating its customers and even employees.”

But far more reviewers have another gripe: Uber’s apparent disregard for user privacy. The monthly volume of one-star ratings for Uber in the App Store first spiked last November, after the company redesigned its app and infringed on user privacy by eliminating an iOS setting that let users grant Uber access to their location only “while using” the app. Users are now forced to choose between letting Uber track their location “always” and “never” (the latter of which means entering your pickup and drop-off points manually any time you request a ride).

“There’s absolutely no reason for Uber to track my location AFTER the ride is over,” a reviewer wrote on Feb. 22. ”It’s a completely sketchy move that does not benefit the user is any way.” Another user titled their Feb. 20 review, “Invasion of privacy!!!” “You are now required to give Uber your location 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether or not the app is open,” reviewer “Christian425” wrote. “It’s just ridiculous. I can’t support such terrible business practices.”

Other reviewers have complained of Uber’s poor customer service, conspicuous lack of in-app tipping, and surge pricing that has become much harder to measure since the company switched to an “upfront” fares system last summer. ”The new version makes it more and more difficult to see the prices,” one reviewer wrote on Feb. 22. In a review on Feb. 21 titled “Hidden surge pricing is out of control,” another said rides from their Bay Area apartment to San Francisco International Airport that historically cost $18 to $20 are now routinely priced at $48 to $50.

Uber is no stranger to bad press, but its latest stumbles—first for perceived support of Trump, and now over an aggressive and at times sexist corporate culture—have clearly unlocked a host of consumer frustrations. The company is currently pleading with users who are trying to delete their accounts to reconsider. “Everyone is deeply hurting after reading Susan Fowler’s blog post,” the company has emailed these users. “What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.”

If the App Store reviews are any indication, Uber is fighting an uphill battle. In 2016, the company earned 6,806 one-star ratings from US users for the entire year, according to App Annie. Two months into 2017, it’s already 66% of the way to surpassing that total.