A Shake-Up on the Uber Front

Published by thehappytypist in the blog thehappytypist's blog.

A pair of articles released by BuzzFeed have shaken things up in the Uber world. They're spreading like wildfire. The CSRs who participated were right in the things they said but unfortunately there's been some spinning of the facts and I'd like to address these articles based on my own experiences and knowledge as a former CSR. Just to note, I didn't contribute to either of them.

Is this article an accurate accounting of how Uber CSRs were treated? Abso-freaking-lutely. It's actually 100% spot on. The part that stands out the most to me is the inappropriate way sensitive issues are handled by the overseas agents. This is where Uber needs to shine, show sensitivity and urgency and sadly there are far too many failures in this area. Instead of immediately escalating, responses intended for minor incidents are sent out. I can only imagine how this feels to the rider - a slap in the face. They sometimes have the opposite issue, a non-urgent issue getting escalated because the agent misunderstood the message due to the language barrier. This would take up time with the incident response team who would have to review it and kick it back to the agent. Hey Manila: the phrase "serial killer" showing up in a message doesn't mean it's an urgent issue. It just means the rider was impressed by the driver's knowledge of past serial killers. It was a compliment.

In Uber's response to this article, there are so many lies and a lot of spinning! But the ex-Uber CSRs responded back with truth in their comments to the article. Was there an offer on the table to work in one of the Centers of Excellence? Yes, there was, but $1500 for moving expenses in order to work a temporary, contract job that actually had LOWER pay was just silly. Some who live close to offices made the transition and as far as I know, they're doing well. However, this just wasn't feasible for a majority of the remote CSRs.

Yes, we did start this job with a six month contract. However, we were highly praised by our managers for the excellent work we did, and those who were switched from Uber to ZeroChaos got one year contracts. We were also told that having ZeroChaos handle the HR side of things would make it easy for promotions and raises to take place in the future. Everything pointed towards a more permanent position. Did those promotions or raises happen? No, not even when we were trained on tasks that were much more difficult and added phone calls to our responsibilities.

As for the claims that a remote workforce wasn't best for the drivers and riders? I'm going to call BS on that, big time. Many companies manage with an at home workforce doing everything from simple customer service to managing their own team and quality assurance. Uber is looking for an excuse to justify the knee-jerk decision they made when they saw how much it cost to have an onshore, amazing support team who were being paid well. In the screenshots included in Buzzfeed's article, you can see the quality you get from people who are being paid 25% of what we were. In the end, we were disposed of because we were too expensive.

Is this article an accurate glimpse into Uber sex assault complaints? The short answer is - not really. The screenshots provided are from Uber's ticket system and I don't doubt the number of tickets with the words rape or sexual assault in them are accurate. Unfortunately, they've been taken slightly out of context. I'll never be the first to champion Uber but this just can't slide. I feel the need to speak up and sort things out.

What's most accurate is the information regarding how they handle accusations of drivers operating under the influence. Media image is everything to Uber so if there's a chance of an incident garnering attention, suddenly it's Defcon 5 and there will be no mercy shown. Otherwise, they stick to the procedure of issuing a warning unless there's already been a previous complaint of the same nature. Without the threat of a media circus or law enforcement getting involved, a driver will get one warning then will be permanently deactivated if another similar report is made. In the spotlight they're tough on incidents. Behind closed doors, things are a little more lax.

What about the screenshots showing thousands of tickets with the words rape or sexual assault in them? Well, Uber got the reasons right this time, with the small exception that they've already clarified with the media. Since I no longer have access to the system, this is just an estimate but I'd say at least half of the tickets are responses to reports of Uber sexual assaults in the media. Every single time, we would receive many tickets from concerned persons stating their opinion and questioning their own safety. It's also pretty common for riders to use "rape" as hyperbole, especially when there's surge rates or cleaning fees involved.

If you'll note, a handful of those tickets shown in the screenshots are actually driver complaints against riders. Except for a very few cases, crimes committed against drivers go largely unnoticed in the media. Not only do passengers assault the drivers themselves, they vandalize their vehicles and steal their personal items. Uber's stance on these incidents? They'll ban the rider but no help is given to the driver, not even to charge riders and reimburse the driver for vehicle damage. I find this focus on rider issues while ignoring what happens to drivers a disturbing trend.

So once again we see Uber scrambling to rescue their image, twisting true information and trying to correct things that have been twisted by the media. Either way, it's always a good idea to take what they say with a grain of salt and look for the real story behind the spin.
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