First off, regardless of who’s behind the site, it’s good that there’s pushback against Uber, one of the most problematic startups in recent memory. WhosDrivingYou rails against the ridesharing service as, more or less, a public menace—a service where drivers aren’t properly insured or vetted, and where potential customers are subject to euphemistic ‘surge pricing,’ price gouging cloaked in a supply and demand argument that would earn a C in a high school economics class, using demand as an excuse to increase supply by raising prices so much that the people who need rides most get priced out.
Uber is one of the worst offenders of the new gig economy model, a ruinous trend that is turning back decades worth of hard-won labor protections while cynically being described as ’empowerment.’ All the costs involved in driving are shifted onto the driver, including insurance, while Uber saves cash by ignoring that problem and running background checks that, if as stringent as they claim, seem to be surprisingly ineffective. That, and the luxury of generous amounts of venture capital money allows Uber to not care so much about maximizing profit, keeping prices artificially low (in non-surge times, anyway) in an effort to squeeze out taxi drivers. And, if they’re ever successful in squeezing the old guard out—well, you’ve seen their surge pricing, you know what to expect.
It’s problematic for the old guard and for Uber riders alike. There’s no shortage of horror stories about abusive, drunk or otherwise dubious Uber drivers, and while you can find those same stories about traditional taxi drivers, at least in the latter the commission takes some amount of responsibility for the people they employ. Uber’s employees—ahem, contracted drivers—are, by virtue of Uber’s business model, self-employed, which is a convenient way for Uber to get out of minding them properly.
That’s why we have WhosDrivingYou, right? Well, WhosDrivingYou does offer a helpful service, giving you a centralized place to lodge complaints against Uber drivers or pricing practices while promising to help you get your story publicized. So, who’s behind the site? Come on, guess.
It’s Melwood Global, a PR firm! You might not know their name, but you’ll be familiar enough with one of their clients—the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association. So, yeah, WhosDrivingYou amounts to one weapon in the old guard’s lobbying arsenal. Then again, Uber and its ilk are pretty much guilty as charged. So, you can complain and play the old guard’s game, or you can try to spurn their machinations and live with Uber’s nefarious tactics. But, we have a better idea—you have an Uber horror story? Drop us a line. We’re always listening!