Uber rang in the new year in a big way -- with 2 million rides. The app-based taxi company and transportation network announced Friday that, at one point over New Year's Eve, 58 rides were reaching their destinations every second. After a controversial 2014, though, Uber could be gearing up for a bumpy ride.
A federal judge ruled Friday that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s emails regarding the company’s top-secret tipping policy must be released in conjunction with a California lawsuit. The firm is being sued for advertising that 20 percent of riders’ fees go toward an automatic gratuity for drivers, but allegedly keeping a “substantial portion” for itself, Reuters reported. Plaintiff Caren Ehret is arguing that this made her overpay.
Payment was at the source of another Uber nightmare this week, as well. Although the company warned users that surge pricing would go into effect for New Year’s Eve, several customers woke up after a night of celebration to find pricey charges on their accounts. The NBC News “Today” show published screenshots taken by customers who paid hundreds of dollars for short rides. In one case, a 20-mile trip cost $509.
Adding to a rocky week was a Jezebel story about Uber’s “shockingly half------” Safe Ride Checklist, released in Boston and Chicago after multiple drivers there were accused of sexually assaulting passengers. The checklist recommends riders confirm they’re getting in the right car and that the in-app driver photo matches up. “We are being responsive,” Uber Chicago general manager Chris Taylor told the Chicago Sun-Times. But Jezebel said the company needs to do more to protect its customers, like conducting thorough background checks and including a feature that notifies the company when a driver is being inappropriate.
Despite these public-relations snafus, Uber is expanding ridiculously fast. The startup is on track to achieve an annual revenue run rate of $10 billion by the end of this year, Business Insider reported. Its service is available in 53 countries and about 200 cities, including New York, Rome, Paris, Dublin, Sydney and Tokyo. What happens in 2015 remains to be seen.