Details of gross negligence at Uber’s India operations are being unravelled after the alleged rapist Uber driver was apprehended from Mathura yesterday. The arrested driver was earlier jailed in 2011 in a rape case and was lodged in Tihar jail for seven months, NDTV reports. It isn’t clear how he ended up driving for Uber, which claims to vet its drivers before getting them onboard its service that connects cabs with customers. Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelinesAlso Read - Uber launches 'Uber Connect' package delivery service to rival Dunzo and Swiggy Genie
BGR India spoke with some Uber drivers in Delhi, some of whom suggested that many are registering their cars on Uber’s network and use multiple drivers to keep the cars running for longer duration, while only one driver is registered with Uber and swap the registered phone number among each other. According to drivers BGR India spoke to, Uber pays Rs 12,000 per week to a driver just for keeping their car online on Uber’s app for more than 70 hours a week. That alone is an incentive enough for drivers to ensure their cars are on the network for longer, hence necessitating tag-teaming to meet the minimum hours. As a safety precaution, Uber displays the photograph of the driver on its app but few users seem to pay heed. Also Read - Uber to operate 'Essential' cab service to hospitals and pharmacy stores in 4 cities
Another report suggests that the Delhi government is considering canceling Uber’s license to operate in Delhi and calling it unauthorized. According to the Indian Express, Uber does not have a rent-a-cab permit and only has an All India Tourist Permit. Uber maintains that it is not a cab service and is a technology company that connects users to cabs.
The absence of a call centre where users can call to complain is also turning out to be a stumbling block for Uber. At the time of its India launch, Uber had highlighted this as a feature.
It is unclear how Uber would get out of this situation but its line of argument would be that it is not a transportation provider and is only an enabler between customers and third party service providers and that is clear from its Terms of Service, which absolves it of any situation. What’s intriguing, however, is that in its terms of service, Uber doesn’t guarantee safety of services provided by third parties (read cabs on its network) while in its marketing campaigns it promises just that. Here is a part of the terms of service on Uber’s website.
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT UBER DOES NOT PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION OR LOGISTICS SERVICES OR FUNCTION AS A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER. UBER’S SERVICES MAY BE USED BY YOU TO REQUEST AND SCHEDULE TRANSPORTATION OR LOGISTICS SERVICES WITH THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS, BUT YOU AGREE THAT UBER HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY TO YOU RELATED TO ANY TRANSPORTATION OR LOGISTICS PROVIDED TO YOU BY THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS THROUGH THE USE OF THE SERVICES OTHER THAN AS EXPRESSLY SET FORTH IN THESE TERMS.
UBER DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE SUITABILITY, SAFETY OR ABILITY OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS. IT IS SOLELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE IF A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS. UBER WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER. BY USING THE SERVICES, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO SITUATIONS INVOLVING THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS THAT ARE POTENTIALLY UNSAFE, OFFENSIVE, HARMFUL TO MINORS, OR OTHERWISE OBJECTIONABLE, AND THAT USE OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS ARRANGED OR SCHEDULED USING THE SERVICES IS AT YOUR OWN RISK AND JUDGMENT. UBER SHALL NOT HAVE ANY LIABILITY ARISING FROM OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO YOUR TRANSACTIONS OR RELATIONSHIP WITH THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS.
In other words, what Uber is saying here is we will claim that we will provide a reliable and safe ride to you, but if that’s not the case don’t blame us – fight it out with the cabbie.
With no background checks or vetting of drivers; no way to see whether the registered driver is driving the cab; no way to track a cab if the driver decides to switch his phone off; and eventually no responsibility of the actions of third party cabbies – Uber is not significantly better than getting into a random cab in the middle of the road.