At Uber, The Customer Is Certainly Not Always Right

David Streitfeld writes in the NYT about the glorious new world of the “reputation” economy, in which “Ratings Now Cut Both Ways, So Don’t Sass Your Uber Driver“.  As he reports, apparently Uber let’s its drivers rate customers, and if you get poor “grades” you will find that there are no rides available, because other drivers will shun you.  I say “apparently”, because the process is completely opaque, and noone, least of all Uber, takes responsibility. Yet another “disruptive innovation”.

Streitfeld points out the conflict of interest here, where both drivers and riders are rating each other, and so have a strong motive to give good grades.

I must say that where I come from, we were taught that “the customer is always right”.  You don’t provide public services only to people you like, you provide them to everybody.

I also foresee some very, very serious law suits coming soon.

I can imagine my cranky old auntie is secretly blackballed by drivers, lodging, delivery services, etc., because she’s such a pain.  Lawsuit. And the family next door with 2 noisy tots.  Refusing service is not only obnoxious, it is actionable.

And it will not be too long before we discover that Uber drivers are systematically refusing to serve “sketchy” parts of town, and “scary” (read dark skinned) customers.  Similar for cousin George in a wheelchair. In these cases, it is a Federal beef in the US.

These companies will say that they aren’t responsible.  We shall see.  I bet they are.

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