Taxi drivers protest Uber, Lyft
Taxi drivers protest against Uber, Lyft and other transportation services outside the California statehouse in June. Reuters/Max Whittaker

Uber employees across the country are aggressively and systematically engaging in an underhanded business tactic that involves ordering and canceling rides from rival car-service companies, according to a new report.

Lyft, Uber’s fiercest rival (despite operating in many fewer cities), released data to CNN indicating that since last October, 177 Uber workers have made some 5,560 requests for a Lyft ride, only to cancel the request when the driver is en route. Lyft contends the sheer quantity of requests proves that Uber is stealing its business by keeping drivers busy, thus allowing Uber drivers to swoop in and grab the customers.

A single Uber account located in Los Angeles, for instance, canceled 49 rides between October and mid-April, CNN reported. One Uber recruiter used at least 14 accounts to order and then cancel 680 rides. A third, Lyft claimed, used his phone number for 21 accounts, which then canceled a staggering 1,524 rides.

There was no indication that San Francisco-based Uber has an official policy or in any way compelled employees to use this method. An Uber spokeswoman denied to the Wall Street Journal that Uber uses such tactics, although she did admit that Uber has used similarly minded recruitment initiatives in the past.

“We recently ran a program where thousands of riders recruited drivers from other platforms, earning hundreds of dollars in Uber credits for each driver who tries Uber,” she said. “I think it’s flattering when other companies look at how we’re innovating and want to do similar things.”