Uber drivers are so unhappy with Uber that even CEO Travis Kalanick can’t get a ride without being harangued by them.
Bloomberg has obtained a shocking video of the Uber CEO getting into a heated argument with his Uber driver. The video, recorded from the dashcam, shows Kalanick sitting in the cab with two women after what looks like a night about town. After the women exit, the cab driver, Fawzi Kamel, recognizes Kalanick. He turns around and talks about the lowered fares on Uber, which have led to lowered earnings for drivers worldwide.
Kalanick tells him that they had to lower prices because it was necessary to beat the competition – Lyft. But the driver is unhappy with the explanation. “People aren’t trusting you anymore. People (drivers) don’t want to buy cars anymore,” he says. Then he drops the zinger. “I lost 97,000 dollars because of you. I (am) bankrupt because of you.”
Kalanick says that Uber never dropped the rates on Uber Black, the car Kamel is driving. Kamel then tries to explain how the fares have been dropped, but Kalanick cuts him off. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” he says, before storming out of the car. Kamel isn’t willing to let him off so easily – he responds with a “Good luck to you too, but I know you won’t go far!”
It’s an extraordinary thing for someone to tell their boss, but Kamel has just told Kalanick what Uber drivers worldwide have been trying to tell the company. When Uber had launched, it had started off with very high incentives for drivers, who ended up buying their own cars on loans. After Uber cornered the market, it drastically lowered fares, severely cutting driver incomes.
This scenario is playing out in India as we speak – Uber and Ola drivers across the country have been on strike, protesting the lowered fares which have rendered them unable to pay back their loans. In Hyderabad, drivers had dressed up as beggars and asked for alms at traffic signals to highlight their plight; a 34- year driver had committed suicide after being harassed by loan officials. In Bangalore, drivers had thrown stones and broken the windows of the Uber office; a driver had consumed poison, another had set himself on fire. In Delhi, drivers have been on hunger strike protesting Uber’s low fares.
Uber, thus far, hasn’t accepted any of the drivers’ demands. But with their CEO having got an earful from one of their “partners” – that’s what Uber calls its drivers – maybe they’ll listen to the thousands of drivers who’re suffering.