A Denver Uber Driver’s Story
By Ali Alnazzal
Working for more than eight years as a driver with Uber and Lyft, I witnessed many malpractices and exploitation, from profiling to embezzlement. Passing the background check was not enough; Uber conducts a facial recognition practice, which initially might be a good practice, but when it happens more than four hundred times in eight years, it becomes a profiling process.
After a few months of joining Uber, my account was deactivated. I asked the company for the reason, and they claimed my customer rating was low. Without giving any training on how to provide high-quality customer service or education about how the system works, they decided that I am not fit for work. When deactivating an account happens arbitrarily without a first or second warning, laborers lose their humane working standards.
A few months later, my account was deactivated again. This time they ran a random AutoCheck report and found that my car does not have a clean title although my Carfax report said so. By law, they only have to run a car inspection test and my car passed this test. I ended up replacing my car and incurred a $5000 dollars loss.
Embezzlement is when customers pay half the fare on the toll roads, and the driver has to pay the rest. When fares of driving in Denver are equal to driving to another city in Colorado or even outside Colorado (Wyoming), where there is no demand there, the driver is bound to return empty. And above all of these challenges, fares are half of their Taxicab driver’s counterparts. Taxicab maximum fare from downtown to Denver International Airport is $51, while I barely make $24 per the trip with both companies.
Being a self-employed worker who works whenever he likes and stops whenever he pleases seems appealing. However, a problem arises when most incentives and pay bounces are only offered unpredictably and on specific times and days. “Independent” drivers also bear the heavy burden of car maintenance, repairs, gas fees, cleaning fees, and vehicle depreciation costs. As a result, customers who pay less than the average will get low-quality customer service. Most of the profits pour into the management of corporations like Uber or Lyft.
Ridesharing companies play the role of intermediaries in the simple transaction between buyers and sellers. Depending on the vertical management structure, decisions are made to serve the interests of the top level of the company’s hierarchy, ignoring the sweat and efforts of the bottom level drivers. It is time to get rid of the third-party role and maintain a healthy, direct relationship between drivers and passengers. This can occur through a rideshare cooperative, where drivers own their own app and elect their own managers to direct company administrative affairs.
A Rideshare cooperative adopts a horizontal management structure stemming from experienced drivers and specialized people who have the knowledge, skill, and practice to forge better solutions that establish a strong relationship between drivers and passengers. They are working to achieve fair fares for customers and drivers, to offer good retirement plans for all their employees, to provice low-priced health insurance, and share the profits more equitably so as to create a collective society, free of profiling and embezzlement.