Theft and lies: why Uber doesn't deserve your business - and Uber alternatives
Uber’s not the only game in town. Although they might be the most well-known ride-hailing service, their shoddy practises mean a healthy appetite is developing for companies that aren’t quite so passionately against playing it fair. What have they been getting up to? Why should you look for an alternative to Uber?
Your credit card details aren’t safe with Uber
So maybe the morality of the businesses you deal with isn’t that big a deal to you. Here’s a nice selfish reason to ditch Uber: your money can be stolen out of your Uber account. This isn’t the same as fake Uber SMS messages, although that happens too, this is about fake trips being logged to your Uber account which you’re then charged for by Uber. Often they’re not even in a country you’ve ever visited, like Thailand or Russia, but that money flies out of your account all the same.
The scariest part is, you’ll get an SMS giving you a code to enter for security for these phantom rides, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from being charged to you. And the rides tend to cost in the hundreds of dollars. Usually we rely on SMS authentication to keep us safe: the idea is if only you have access to your phone, people can’t get into your account. But it looks like Uber can’t keep your money safe; these trips have been happening for years.
Hackers stole the data of 57 million customers. Uber kept it quiet, and paid the hackers
In late 2016, hackers managed to get millions of people’s data including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and the license numbers of thousands of drivers.
That’s pretty bad. This is worse: they waited a year before revealing they were hacked, probably to avoid bad press, and paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet and delete the hacked information. Although you would be justified in wondering why the hackers would delete the info once they received their money, especially since that data is worth plenty of money. Maybe they should’ve paid the hackers to delete the info, but they sure as hell should have owned up to the breach, so their customers are aware and can take appropriate steps.
Uber steals technology from their rivals
Waymo, a company owned by Google’s parent, is working hard on developing self-driving car technology, and arguably is the leader in the field. Uber is desperate to get successful self-driving technology as quickly as possible - seeing it as a way to cut costs. Competition is usually healthy, but Uber crossed a line when they spent $680 million to buy a company founded by a guy who stole Waymo’s “highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation” so they could get access to Google’s technology.
In 2017 a judge ordered that Uber must return the stolen files (all 9.7 GB of them) and not use the stolen technology. Uber settled the case for $244 million.
The funniest bit is that Otto got caught with their ill-gotten goods when a Waymo employee was accidentally copied in on an email to a supplier with a design that was clearly a rip-off of Waymo’s technology.
And all the other shady things they get up to
Such as being shady with drivers, hiding from law enforcement by secretly denying rides to officers in places where it’s illegal (how dodgy is that), and their deliberately douchey hussle culture. There’s no shortage of evidence that their hussle at all costs culture is effective. It’s up to you to decide if it’s healthy for companies to behave this way, and if you should support them.
Let’s get you an Uber Alternative
Uber alternatives in the USA
- Lyft - Uber’s main rival in North America, lately reported to have around 35% market share. Available across the US and Canada.
- Curb - Curb uses professional drivers, no kids trying to make a buck. They’re available in 65 US cities including NYC, LA, DC, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami.
- Waymo - Waymo’s begun offering commercial self-driving taxis (whoa!) in Phoenix, AZ
Uber alternatives in the UK
- OLA - A large Indian company that recently began serving the UK, as well as Australia and New Zealand
Uber alternatives in Australia
- GoCatch - Go the local option and support an Australian company!
- DiDi - A huge Chinese company serving a handful of countries and included Melbourne as their Australian launch city
- OLA - A large Indian company that recently began serving Australia, as well as New Zealand and the UK
Other Uber alternatives
- Cabify - A Spanish company that operates in Latin America, as well as Spain and Portugal
- 99 - Operating primarily in São Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil, now owned by Chinese company DiDi
- EasyTaxi - A Brazilian company operating across Latin America
- DiDi - DiDi is a Chinese company but also serve Mexico and Brazil, among other countries elsewhere in the world
- Cabify - A Spanish company that operates in Latin countries in Spain and Portugal, as well as the countries of Latin America
- Yandex.Taxi - A subsidiary of Russia’s largest search engine, they operate across Eastern Europe
- Careem - Based in Dubai, operates across the Middle East and Pakistan
- DiDi - Huge Chinese company serving China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, among a smattering of other countries
- Grab - Based in Singapore and operating across South East Asia, Grab is the biggest ride hailing company in the region. They’re also big in the food delivery world
- GO-JEK - Operates in Indonesia
There you have it. While there's a few more providers, they're generally a lot smaller than those above and don't represent a great choice. However the field is changing and maturing quickly, so look out for more alternatives in future.