In most cities worldwide, getting a taxi is often a complex, unreliable, and uncomfortable process. Uber is the technology platform that has improved this experience by implementing the application-based service to link the community drivers with the potential passengers. Uber uses modern ways of communication and innovative technologies in order to meet the client’s needs more efficiently. As a result, such approach has created unprecedented competition in the sphere of transport services. Overall, the analysis of problems, controversies, and people’s opinions about Uber reveals both the disadvantages of the service and the reasons for its popularity.
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Background Information About Uber and Areas of Research
The service of Uber is organized in an accessible and easy way. In order to use the service, both passengers and non-commercially licensed drivers should install the Uber application that conveys the location of a potential client to the drivers through GPS technology. The client also receives the information about the driver’s car and their picture. Having such data, a person can easily identify the car and the driver, which ensures safety, convenience, and simplicity of the process. When the ride begins, the customer is charged a distance variable fare (Rogers, 2015). Such algorithm of the Uber ride has made the service popular worldwide.
Apart from researching the general information about the Uber service, it is necessary to analyze the main problems connected with the company. While Uber is trying to integrate into the modern world, this process is associated with certain legal, social, and economic consequences (Edelman, 2015). Therefore, addressing the problems may help to understand how Uber drivers work and what rights and obligations they have. Another area of the research lies in the study of controversies. Due to the fact that Uber is an innovative form of transport service, it inevitably entails serious controversies, mainly connected with the legal sphere. In fact, there exists a number of legal frameworks that could regulate the operation of transportation network companies (TNC) (Edelman, 2015). At the same time, services like Uber find ways to circumvent the laws that do not fit their work policy. Lastly, people’s opinion is fundamental to both the development of the service and the analysis of the effective and weak sides of Uber. It is essential to highlight the feedback of drivers and passengers, as they constitute the core of the company. In brief, analyzing problems, controversies, and people’s opinion is vital for characterizing the Uber service.
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Problems Associated with Uber
If drivers accept the ride, they are provided with a name, address, and passenger rating. Nevertheless, this system still poses some considerable problems. First, if the driver refuses numerous rides, they will be penalized with time. Second, it is the driver’s responsibility to drive and find the place where the passenger is waiting. Often, the drivers have to search for the person and to call them because they may have received the ambiguous information via the application (Rogers, 2015). On the other hand, such difficulty may be connected with the lack of navigation knowledge. In fact, there is no need for Uber drivers to pass any formal trainings and exams in regard to the geography of the city. Hence, they are dependent on the use of GPS technology, which may be misleading. Although the Uber application has an in-built map, many drivers refrain from using it because of its unreliability and wrong navigation system (Gl?ss, McGregor, & Brown, 2016). Another problem is related to the opinion that Uber exploits its drivers. Due to the fact that Uber does not identify drivers as employees, calling them freelance contractors instead, people do not have regular salaries and healthcare security, and they are not covered by insurance in contrast to a full-time employee (Edelman, 2015).
In addition, Uber enables discrimination among drivers and passengers. First, the passengers with disabilities express numerous complaints about receiving refusals of transportation by Uber drivers. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that drivers cannot reject a passenger on the basis of disability, on the Uber’s page for drivers, there is a written permission to choose whom to give a ride. Moreover, there is no prohibition of discrimination, although many people face it because of race, gender, and social status. Remarkably, not only passengers suffer from such attitude. The Uber rider-feedback model demonstrates that drivers are also affected by discriminatory incidents. For example, passengers may give bad reviews and low grades to drivers with the racial-minority background (Rogers, 2015). Thus, such policies of the company form serious problems that drivers and passengers have to face.
The biggest controversy connected with Uber lies in the definition of its service and the company’s statements about its functioning. Although Uber describes the service as “ride-sharing,” this definition is controversial and inaccurate (Rogers, 2015, p. 87). In fact, this service cannot belong to the sector of sharing economy because the driver has to invest their time and efforts to meet the client’s needs and to accomplish the requested journey. Thus, Uber represents the innovative capitalist form of car hire services governed by supply and demand. From a legal perspective, Uber presents the main controversy related to the operation permission. Although Uber drivers perform the functions of taxi drivers, Uber contractors do not have to receive a license to be eligible for work (Edelman, 2015). The defining characteristic of TNC makes Uber a “prearranged transportation” because passengers order rides by using an application (Edelman, 2015, p. 3). Such service cannot be considered as a taxi service, and thus, legal regulations cannot be applied to Uber. Overall, many people acknowledge that Uber can be characterized as an illegal taxi service which may circumvent the traditional taxi laws (Rogers, 2015). In addition, although Uber advertises its safest rides, the company does not do much to ensure that the drivers are experienced and that the information they provide about their professional skills is verified. Uber checks only their criminal record registered within the period of the last seven years. This fact proves that instead of working on ensuring maximum safety, Uber is against legislation that focuses on the implementation of higher safety requirements (Edelman, 2015). Thus, this kind of attitude toward law seriously undermines Uber’s accountability and people’s safety.
Many people who are otherwise employed support the flexibility that Uber application gives to them. As a result, Uber significantly supplements the income people receive from other jobs, giving them a chance to work fewer hours than taxi drivers and most importantly, to be in a position to choose when and how to work (Gl?ss et al., 2016). Some drivers confess that it is a social aspect that motivates them most, with income playing a secondary role. For example, many people drive from time to time and only for social interaction with others. Moreover, the majority of drivers call the registration process “effortless” because there is little interaction between the Uber company and a potential driver (Gl?ss et al., 2016, p. 1638).
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Many people opt for the Uber service due to the comfort of ordering the ride. Thus, instead of calling a dispatcher and waiting outside for a long time in uncertainty whether the taxi is going to arrive or not, Uber users can order a car from indoors and observe the driver’s location in real-time, in relation to the pick up place (Gl?ss et al., 2016). Despite possible risks connected with stepping into a stranger’s car, many passengers prefer Uber drivers to regular taxis, stating that private vehicles are maintained better and that the relationship between the Uber driver and the client is more straightforward and comfortable (Gl?ss et al., 2016), thus satisfying the client’s need for social interaction.
The emergence and further popularization of Uber have conditioned considerable changes in all aspects of a traditional form of taxi driving. The introduction of new technologies has made the work of the drivers more flexible and at the same time, more demanding. Despite the mainly positive feedback about the service, Uber is criticized in terms of not following all the laws and undermining the passenger’s safety because of insufficient verification of its drivers. Moreover, Uber drivers lack geography knowledge of the city and may both face and demonstrate incidents of discrimination. Thus, only the thorough analysis of the problems and controversies may help to change the service for the better.