Uber is a controversial
taxi company ride-sharing company (but definitely-not-a-taxi company) which works through a phone app and is best known for its rapid growth and the severe backlash to its spread, particularly its opposition from traditional taxi operations.
In many jurisdictions, taxicabs have been highly regulated and licensed. As with many such licensing schemes, the claimed justification for the licensing scheme is to protect public health and safety. The licenses also create an oligopoly market, exclude competition, and raise prices, which gives the license holders a comfortable and reliable living. In some areas, the licences command very high prices.
By contrast, Uber doesn't require its drivers to be licensed like
other normal taxi drivers because they totally aren't taxi drivers and instead, as Uber claims, are a "ride sharing service." It currently does business in 57 countries, and has been heavily criticized for its performance and business tactics.
Critics of Uber point out their drivers' lack of training, in contrast to regular taxi drivers who do undergo training. Furthermore, the drivers themselves have protested the way that they are treated by the company. Mostly because they are considered "independent contractors" so they are not protected by labor laws and must go to a company chosen arbitrator at $3,500 a day plus a $2,500 retainer.
Being an Uber driver tends to average out at $14 an hour, about half of what the average taxi driver makes, according to drivers, while Uber contends that drivers make an average of $25 an hour with a median of $90,000 a year. The fine print is that drivers must maintain their vehicle, pay appropriate vehicle taxes, gas, tolls, vehicle registration, and other employment taxes. To put that into context one would need to work 27 hours a day, 365 days a year, in order to make the median estimated Uber salary.[please explain]
Uber's interest in autonomous cars might be motivated by a desire to replace its current (underpaid, overworked, untrained and complaining) workforce. If successfully implemented, this could have the effect of eliminating ten million jobs.
On top of that, the woefully inadequate background checks for prospective drivers have resulted in numerous reported instances of Uber drivers assaulting, raping and even kidnapping passengers who hire rides from the service. Other complaints have run the gamut from reports of drivers leaving the meters on long after their ride is complete without Uber taking any action, unexplained mystery fees that can more than double the agreed fare after the ride, "surge pricing" that can be up to $20 per mile traveled, and some drivers attempting to take advantage of riders paying in cash when drive totals somehow happen to be higher than the cash on hand.
One notable incident happened in Los Angeles in 2014, where a woman was taken to an abandoned lot instead of her home and Uber only apologized for the "inefficient route"!
Another, more prominent, area of criticism for Uber has been their tendency to price gouge, particularly on holiday nights. Known as 'surge pricing,' this includes raising their rates by as much as 900% of the normal rate on various special days of the year.  This has tended to create backlash among consumers and consumer advocacy groups alike, as it tends to especially take advantage of vulnerable party-goers who may be too intoxicated to notice the price hike.
- All you need to know about Uber (9 July 2015) BBC.
- See, for example, the Wikipedia article on Taxicabs of New York City.
- France charges Uber bosses over 'illegal' practices: French resistance to the taxi-hailing app intensifies, but Uber remains defiant By Adam Gale Wednesday, 01 July 2015 Management Today.
- Uber facing legal action in UK over its workers' rights (29 July 2015) BBC.
- Bloomberg - Uber plans to keep Driver Complaints out of Court
- Glass Door - Average Uber Driver Salary
- Uber Salary by drivers after costs
- Uber and Lyft Salaries per city
- Why Uber is developing autonomous cars Jonathan Camhi (Aug. 27, 2015, 11:12 PM) Business Insider.
- How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 Million Jobs and Reshape the Economy by 2025 by Zack Kanter
- Who's Driving You? Reported List of Incidents Involving Uber and Lyft
- Consumer Affair - Uber Complaints
- Site Jabber - Uber's 13% rating
- Uber Calls Woman's 20-Mile Nightmare Abduction an "Inefficient Route"
- Uber customer outraged over $539 bill for 18-mile ride caused by 'surge pricing'
- Uber Surge Pricing on New Year's Eve Ignites Social Media Maelstrom, "However, in some places, New Year’s Eve surge pricing led to rates nine times the normal price – and customers were not pleased."
- ricing-will-be-effect-1717023 Uber Issues Holiday Reminder To Users: Surge Pricing Will Be In Effect
- Uber Users Are Complaining About Pricey New Year’s Eve Rides