The least popular kid on the block these days? Uber. The ride sharing company, already a veritable magnet for controversy, has had a bad case of the Mondays for the last several days in a row. It started at the beginning of the week, when Uber drivers in New York began staging protests in response to hefty price cuts (the same ones customers are thrilled about). And then yesterday, the Internet exploded in collective rage over Uber’s rebranding and logo change, with critics across the board calling it “disgusting” and “underwhelming.” And now, Uber drivers in France are staging what they call a “funeral march” as a follow-up to a series of taxi driver protests. Suffice it to say that Uber has seen better times.
So let’s break it down piece by piece — what’s been the root of each of these issues?
For starters, the protests in New York followed an announcement that was well-received by riders, but elicited the opposite reaction in drivers. UberX and XL service prices were both reduced by 15 percent last week, dropping the minimum fare from $8 to $7. This, it seems, will cut into the pockets of drivers, and now the people behind the on-demand economy are raising their voices in anger. At a rally, Tsering Sherpa, a Queens resident who says he drives for Uber six days a week, eight hours a day, said the adjustments would force him to work up to 14 hours a day. “New York City just keeps getting more and more expensive,” Mr. Sherpa said at the rally. “How are we supposed to survive with less money?” He continued, “They call us partners. But they’re treating us like slaves.”
On the logo front, it wasn’t drivers who were offended, but rather customers who were confused by the new design on their phone app on Tuesday. Despite the fact that CEO Travis Kalanick was apparently personally involved in the rebranding strategy, Uber-ites were none too impressed. “This new logo sucks. I almost deleted the app i had no idea what it was. Go back to the old one,” one Instagram comment reads. Others knocked the company for spending time and money on its design instead of its drivers.
— † Real One (@Faisal7HTX) February 2, 2016
And then, of course, there’s always Paris, where Uber drivers are unhappy with perceived concessions the French government has made to taxi unions. While Uber has offered no comment on what appear to be company-sanctioned protests, Uber France did send an email to inform its drivers of the protest, with The Verge reporting that the messaging “clearly urges Uber drivers to participate in the protest.” The email allegedly claims that “your future, that of your business, and that of your family are in danger,” and that Uber drivers must “react quickly and make themselves heard clearly, in order to protect our sector.”
It’s a good week to not work at Uber PR.