Uber In Canada
Uber has become one of the fastest-growing tech companies of the past year. It seems you are hearing about it everywhere, and it has even launched in Canada. This year, the company has raised $1.5 billion in venture capital, and it touts itself as a cheaper alternative to taking a taxi, while also laying claims that it is possible to make $50,000 to $100,000 a year as an Uber driver.
The road for Uber has not been an easy one, especially in Canada. In September of 2012, it was reported that Uber was in a dispute with local regulators, and two months later it was announced that the company was raising its rates to $75 per hour to comply with regulations. By December, Uber had chosen not to get a licence from the city. That same month, Uber was charged with 25 municipal licencing offenses in Toronto, including having an unlicensed taxi brokerage and unlicensed limo service.
Uber has touted itself as an alternative to taxis, but many have found that just getting an Uber ride is very difficult. In a piece in the Financial Post, published in September of 2014, a reporter attempted to compare different transit options, including Uber. Depsite checking several times between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., he found no cars were available and the reporter had to take transit to work. As a result, the reporter could not verify the claim that it is 40 per cent cheaper than a Toronto taxi.
What about the claims of making $50,000 to $100,000? These claims seem to be greatly exaggerated upon. For one, there are often too many people offering the service now to actually bring in that much money. One driver stated that they work the busiest hours of the day for Uber, driving people around, and clear around $1,000 a month. That comes to $12,000 a year, far below the average and only in the busiest place at the busiest time.
The road for Uber has not been a smooth one, with many controversies surrounding the company, including in Canada. In December 2013, a person who was working as an Uber driver struck and killed a six-year-old girl with his car. The driver was not carrying a passenger but because the driver was checking the Uber mobile application at the time, the family launched a lawsuit against Uber.
The National Federal of the Blind has also filed a lawsuit against uber claiming that the company violates the American with Disabilties Act. There was one reported instance of a service dog being stored in the trunk and the refusal of the driver to acknowledge the concern of the blind passenger. Another case showed a driver getting into a verbal exchange with a blind man, and accelerating quickly, nearly injuring the guide dog. Cab drivers in Paris have also protested the competition created by the startup. Drivers blocked roads of many European cities in protest of what they see is a threat to their livelihood. They state that Uber, due to it being app-based, is not subject to the same fees and regulations they face.
Uber has also been cited as sabotaging other competitors. Uber employees in New York City were reported to have ordered rides from Gett, a competitor, only to cancel them later. This wasted the time of the drivers to get actual customers, and it lowered the incentives of the drivers to keep with the company, causing them instead to go to Uber. Lyft has also been subject to sabotage. A CNN Money story in August of 2014 found that 177 Uber has also been cited as sabotaging other competitors. Uber employees in New York City were reported to have ordered rides from Gett, a competitor, only to cancel them later. This wasted the time of the drivers to get actual customers, and it lowered the incentives of the drivers to keep with the company, causing them instead to go to Uber. Lyft has also been subject to sabotage. A CNN Money story in August of 2014 found that 177 Uber employees ordered and cancelled 5,560 rides with Lyft over the past year. One Uber recruiter canceled 300 rides in the space of two weeks. Uber did not issue an apology for this.
With Uber in Canada, many see the company threatening the livelihood of taxi companies, when rides can be found at all. Many complain that all that is needed to be an Uber employee is a background check, but little else, which can put people at risk when getting in a car with someone who is not working under a regulated taxi cab service.
Uber has had many problems in the past, and their claims of paying upwards of $50,000 or more to people who drive for them seem to be greatly exaggerated. Many feel that the company has grown too fast, and has no real regulations to keep things in check. Coupled with its business practices, or the practices of its employees, when dealing with competitors, and it is clear to see that Uber has several black eyes for its business so far.
If you are thinking of being an Uber employee, don’t waste your time it seems. If you are thinking of using Uber, it might be best to just choose a regular taxi cab company.
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Halifax, Nova Scotia