If you’re thinking of making a few extra bucks as an Uber driver, you should definitely think twice. Recent news reports indicate that Uber has a very ugly side that it has been hiding from its drivers and users.
A few of the things that Uber won’t tell you when you sign on as a driver include:
- You can be fired at any time for absolutely no reason. Forbes contributor Ellen Huet noted that the contracts Uber has drivers sign allow it to simply cut them off at any time. The company doesn’t even have to tell drivers why they were cut off and left without income. Uber can do this because its drivers are independent contractors, not employees.
- Uber drivers apparently lose their right to freedom of speech. Huet found examples of at least three Uber drivers who got fired after making complaints about the company. A Dallas UberX driver lost his job after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick spotted tweets he was making about fare cuts, for example. Richard Boese, a Boston UberX driver, got the boot after discussing Uber on Reddit.
- Uber might simply pull out of your town and leave drivers high and dry. Uber abruptly suspended service in Eugene, Ore. on Oct. 30 because of a licensing dispute with the city government. The company was facing fines for operating taxicabs without proper licenses. The Register-Guard newspaper reported that Uber was hiring drivers in Eugene as late as Oct. 20, ten days before it fled town.
- Your car might get impounded by the state government. At least 15 Uber drivers in Nevada had their cars seized and towed away by the state’s Transportation Authority. The Authority took the action because it believes Uber violates the state’s taxi cab regulations. To make matters worse, the Transportation Agency has undercover agents posing as Uber riders to try to catch Uber drivers, according to The Reno Gazette-Journal.
- You might have to pay for a criminal background check and a car inspection to drive for Uber. The Washington Post reported that Uber made an agreement with the Taxi Commission in the District of Columbia that requires its drivers to get background checks and car inspections. The Post did not say who would have to pay for those services.
- Uber might be illegal in your state. In Nevada, the state’s attorney general contends Uber is illegal, but state judges claim it’s legal. The matter will have to be settled by one of the state’s appeals courts.
- Your legal status is in limbo. The courts have not yet ruled on the legality of Uber’s employment contracts. Cases challenging Uber’s contracts are winding their way through the courts. Some attorneys contend that Uber drivers are employees, but Uber claims otherwise.
- You might be forced to pay for large amounts of insurance. Uber drivers in Washington D.C. now have to carry $1 million worth of insurance under the agreement with the Taxicab Commission. It isn’t clear who has to pay for that insurance, but it could be passed onto drivers.
It looks like Uber has a lot to hide from both drivers and passengers. Perhaps we should give this car sharing service a pass until its legality is settled.