Super Cali goes ballistic, Uber drivers are stocious (allegedly!)

This app maker's policies are something quite atrocious

Uber safety marketing

Updated California is probing Uber for allegedly failing to ditch more than 150 sloshed drivers who picked up passengers using its dial-a-ride app.

The US state's public utilities commission this week declared it "seeks to investigate and address Rasier’s safety culture and zero-tolerance policies and procedures" – Raiser being Uber's parent biz.

The watchdog wants to determine whether the ride-sharing app builder should be fined $7,500 per violation, or $1,132,500 in total, for not axing half-cut Uber cabbies. California state law requires a "zero tolerance" policy for transit networks such as Uber, mandating they immediately suspend drivers accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The probe was sparked by customer complaints the state obtained from Zendesk, which was contracted in 2015 to process user grumblinga. Those records showed that Uber had failed to act on warnings of hammered drivers, we're told.

"Of the 154 complaints Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division reviewed, Rasier provided evidence for just 22 instances when it suspended the driver within one hour of when a passenger filed a complaint," the commission sniffed.

"Even within those 22 complaints, Rasier’s records appear to contradict that Rasier did indeed suspend drivers prior to initiating an investigation."

The commission's paperwork also notes that Uber's software does not properly flag up DUI accusations from customers as pressing "zero tolerance" problems. While state law requires the driver be immediately suspended pending further investigation upon a complaint, Uber's code instead requires an employee to review the individual grievance and manually block the driver from taking more ride assignments.

"The flaw with that approach, however, is that a driver will not be suspended until Rasier has reviewed and categorized each individual compliant and identified those that involve DUI allegations," the regulator said.

"This is contrary to Safety Requirement D, Part 3, which requires that a TNC driver be suspended promptly “after a zero-tolerance complaint is filed. This method of handling zero tolerance complaints also creates many opportunities for human error."

Indeed, the state alleges that in at least one case a driver was able to accept fares less than an hour after a rider complained of intoxication. "That driver provided one ride during the first hour, and subsequently responded to four ride requests and provided two additional rides," the commission said.

The watchdog reckons Uber is facing fines for violating rule 1.1 and D.13-09-045, safety requirement, part D of California state law. Uber was not available for immediate comment. ®

Updated to add

“We have zero tolerance for any impaired driving as outlined in our community guidelines," an Uber spokesperson told us. "This report relates to complaints in 2014 and 2015 and we’ve significantly improved our processes since then.”

PS: Uber today revealed it doubled its gross bookings in 2016 to $20bn, chalked up net revenues of $6.5bn, and made a net loss of $2.8bn. Oops.

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