brands under fire
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 28, 2014 04:47 PM
Private transportation service Uber is happy to self promote, but there is likely a whole side of its business that it wishes no one knew about: its legal problems.
The international app-driven car and delivery service has attracted a lot of attention for its one-off marketing stunts that have so far included kitten, Christmas tree and ice cream truck deliveries. But lately, the brand has been in headlines for less admirable practices.
Across the US, from New York and Boston to Chicago, Uber is facing claims (and some actual lawsuits) for "illegal practices including misleading marketing and unfair competition," according to the Reuters. Most recently the company apologized to rival car company Gett after some of Uber's New York employees ordered, and then cancelled, more than 100 cars in a scam that debilitated the service. Uber turned the PR disaster into a recruitment fair, trying to convince some of the Gett drivers to swap companies.
But that may be the least of Uber's problems. In California, the company has just been sued by the family of a 6-year-old girl that was struck and killed by an Uber driver on New Year's Eve while crossing a street in San Francisco with her mother and brother.
The driver involved, Syed Muzzafar, “was logged on to the Uber X smartphone app” at the time of the accident, Reuters reports, which has become part of another issue in California, where legislators are trying to crack down on distracted driving.
As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the case will help determine “how technology companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar in the booming ride-services industry should be regulated - and to what degree they should be held liable for the actions of their drivers.”
With a reported $200 million in annual revenue and a $4 billion valuation, Uber has a lot to lose if it doesn't clean up its act.