Uber’s Worst Screw-Ups

10/10 Replay Gallery More Galleries

Uber’s Worst Screw-Ups

Uber is having a hard time making friends at the moment. After a 2014 filled with cringe-inducing gaffes, the company managed to cap its past arrogance when one of its senior executives suggested that the company could invest in opposition research to dig up dirt on journalists it didn’t like.

This information could then be distributed to discredit the journalists without anyone knowing who was behind the smear campaign, the executive noted.

A BuzzFeed editor, who had not been told the event was off the record, published the remarks. But this is just Uber’s latest blunder in a long series of public mistakes.



Given the sheer number of times that Uber has faceplanted in recent memory, it’s worth a trip down memory lane to check out stunts, dodges, and skulduggery that Uber would rather stuff down a memory hole. Let’s go.


Uber Refunds People After Bill Hangover On New Year's Eve

Uber had its first surge pricing blow up on New Year’s Eve as New Yorkers rang in 2012. Due to intense backlash from customers over $100 fares, the company eventually refunded some people on their case-by-case basis. This demonstrates a willingness to be inconsistent in their pricing model just to pacify angry customers – apparently Uber will do anything to be liked.


Uber And The Hurricane

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy rocked New York, shutting down the subways for several days and throwing off the ride-sharing company’s supply-demand balance. Uber upped surge pricing at 2x to incentivize more drivers to get on the roads, and then killed it after PR backlash. The issue wasn’t that people didn’t want to pay more, but that it seemed like Uber used the natural disaster as an opportunity to profit.


Uber Tries To Sabotage Lyft's Service

In a particularly low point for Uber in the endless Uber vs. Lyft saga, Uber gave contractors throwaway phones and credit cards to create fake Lyft accounts, order Lyfts then cancel, and try recruit drivers. We kid you not.


Uber Tries To Sabotage Lyft's Fundraising

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick openly disclosed to Vanity Fair that the company tried to poach Lyft’s investors. It’s no secret that these two companies are not above playing dirty, but come on. Haven’t we all learned that messing with a rival company’s fundraising is ineffective?


Uber Drivers Behave Badly, Part I

UberX driver Patrick Karajah allegedly struck passenger Robert Chicas, a 26-year-old San Francisco bartender, in the head with a hammer. This horrific incident raised liability questions about the company, their independent contractor hiring system, and who is to be held responsible for gruesome incidents like these.


Uber Drivers Behave Badly, Part II

A Los Angeles woman detailed a terrifying experience she had with an UberX driver who abducted her and took her on a 20-mile ride to an abandoned parking lot. After struggling and screaming, the driver took her home, where she described her experience to the company and LAPD. Uber’s response? An apology for the “inefficient route” and a partial fare refund. (Photo from Valleywag)


Uber Turns Gay Marriage Into A Marketing Stunt

Who has two thumbs and wants to piggy-back off of important social change? Pick an Uber executive. Uber has done a number of strange things to gain publicity, but the worst was Uber Wedding, an opportunistic stunt that seemed to cheapen the value of marriage during San Francisco’s Gay Pride weekend.


Uber Isn't Responsible

In surely the saddest of Uber’s dastardly deeds, a driver struck a family of 3, killing a six-year-old girl in San Francisco. Uber promptly denied liability, claiming the driver was between rides, despite the fact that the Uber app incessantly pings drivers with distracting hails. It eventually relented and gave drivers insurance between rides.


Threatening Journalists

Buzzfeed reported that at a private dinner in New York City, Uber EVP of Business Emil Michael said that Uber could spend “a million dollars” on a smear campaign that would hire opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists who had been critical of the company. This was a breaking point for many, as journalists and the public began to question the company’s privacy policies surrounding its mass amounts of data.