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Another hiccup for Uber: Some drivers were being charged for giving rides

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“On my 40-minute trip home, I was thinking about how I lost money driving someone,” said the driver, Kurt, who asked for his last name to be withheld for privacy reasons.

Kurt said he filed a request in the driver’s application for a fare review, but the company said its rate calculated correctly. (Uber told CNN Business it was an autoresponder sent in error). He called the driver’s assistance service, which indicated that officers were not available over the weekend. He sent a direct message to Uber Support on Twitter, which received generic responses.
As a last resort, he publicly has tweeted to a screenshot of the receipt of his income, which went viral. Shortly afterwards, someone from Uber’s support team called him directly to discuss what had happened.

“All it takes is a tweet to get a million impressions and you can get a real person at Uber,” said Kurt, who has been driving for Uber at CNN Business for two years. “They made up for the mistake or whatever, it shouldn’t even be possible. It should never literally happen.”

Kurt is one of several drivers with whom he spoke to CNN Business, all operating in the Chicago area, who reported losing money while giving one or more trips because of what the company said was a software problem and then he was struggling to solve the problem.

“Due to a software bug, fares for certain bookings booked through our new Reserve product were miscalculated. It was a terrible experience for drivers and that’s why we apologize,” a spokeswoman for Uber in a statement to CNN Business. “We have ensured that drivers have been paid in full for all affected journeys, we have fixed the error and established new warranties.”

The company did not say how long the error affected drivers or how many were affected, but those seen by CNN Business occurred in recent weeks.

Uber introduced Book in November 2020, which allows pilots to book trips up to 30 days in advance with initial prices, among other perks. The spokeswoman acknowledged that drivers who experienced the problem with certain reservation reservations did not receive adequate support when they were informed of the problem and stated that they would be re-evaluating their support process so that problems could be resolved. address better when they appear in the future. The spokeswoman said the company adjusted the trips and provided additional payments to drivers for the inconvenience.
It’s just the latest recent hiccup that highlights the precariousness of working for Uber or other on-demand companies as an independent contractor with few benefits and protections. According to reports, the company offered to cover some health insurance costs for workers last month accidentally, only later terminate the offer and explain that it was intended for California drivers, where they are legally required to provide health subsidies to certain drivers. In addition, recent customer complaints about expensive fares amid a shortage of drivers have called attention to Uber’s practice of charging customers during periods of high demand with rising prices without directly channeling that money into higher profits for drivers. (In response, the CEO of Uber claimed “Drivers receive a higher reduction in fare increase,” no matter how decouples the rise in prices of the driver’s payment.)

These problems come at a difficult time for the company. It tries to lure drivers to the platform after falling demand for its service during the pandemic, but it does so amid a wider labor shortage that has given workers more leverage and put more pressure on companies to improve compensation and conditions.

Anthony Novales, another Uber driver, told CNN Business he was docked at $ 44.64 after a recent 34-minute trip. After contacting Uber, he was told there was an “interruption,” which Kurt said was also told and the company was investigating. (Uber told CNN Business that it considered the problem to be an “interruption” because its systems were not working as intended.) Several days later, he said the company sent a message telling him, “Uber you incorrectly collected amounts that you should not have collected and / or could not be assured of receiving your income. “The company said it would receive a $ 25 credit” as a small thank you for your patience “and would eliminate incorrect charges.

“It seems a little strange to me that a company of this size cannot solve this problem [on the spot] when you can clearly see what the problem is, “Novales said. He told CNN Business he wasn’t sure if he even got the credit, but either way he thinks it’s not enough.” Not only did I lose money, but I didn’t charge for the trip itself. “

For his part, Kurt said he received several credits on his account after his experience went viral and caught Uber’s attention: a $ 50 refund for the trip, with an additional $ 150 for his problems ; a payment of $ 36.67, with an additional $ 25 for his inconvenience; a $ 25 payment, according to screenshots seen by CNN Business.

“I don’t know how I feel about the resolution,” he said. “I just feel like they don’t really care about drivers.”

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