Over the weekend, BuzzFeed News published leaked screenshots from Uber’s customer service system that showed over 6,000 complaints relating to “sexual assault” and more than 5,000 containing the word “rape.”
As a company that already has a tarnished reputation when it comes to passenger safety, Uber really can’t afford this kind of bad press and has published an open letter on Medium to dispute the claims.
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Uber claims that the screenshots obtained by Buzzfeed from a former customer service staff member are inaccurate. The company’s defense?
“Our analysis for all of these results shows five tickets that allege an actual rape occurred (0.0000009% of rides in the three years from December 2012 to August 2015) and 170 tickets with a legitimate claim of sexual assault (1 in every 3.3 million trips),” the letter reads.
What Uber is regarding as a ‘legitimate’ sexual assault is yet to be explained and this figure also excludes any case where the passenger went straight to the police first.
So Uber apparently thinks it’s okay to defend itself by announcing that only 1 in every 3.3 million passengers is sexually assaulted? Even if that number was 1 in every 3 billion, it would be one too many.
Uber has an obligation as a company to ensure the safety of its passengers and to use figures like this as a form of defense is an insult to everyone who has ever reported such an incident.
The ride-sharing company claims that its search function will pull up everything that contains ‘rape,’ including driver names, like Draper, which means the numbers shows in BuzzFeed’s screenshots could be wildly inaccurate. However, the images show at least 9 messages that clearly state “Rape” as the subject line.
Uber says it has begun analyzing its employees search history in order to curb any further leaks,
Uber says it is concerned about the sensitive leak, which is understandable from a business perspective, but it’s also important for Uber customers to understand how the company deals with and regards reports about its drivers, so perhaps being more open wouldn’t be a bad move towards redeeming itself.
Update: A follow-up report by Buzzfeed indicates that the outrageous claim for the return on the search term ‘rape’ are also technically incorrect. Zendesk confirms and Uber acknowledges that the search system wouldn’t call back a last name like Draper — instead, it would return last names that start with ‘rape.’
This new claim doesn’t change the search return results or the fact that Buzzfeed independently uncovered five claims of rape.