Have you had it with Uber yet? The company price-gouges customers, screws over its drivers, and now, an Uber exec just publicly outlined a cavalier plan to spy on journalists in retaliation for critical coverage. Good news! You don't have to use it anymore. You can use these alternatives instead.
Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith reports that at a recent private dinner party, Uber SVP Emil Michael explained an oddly detailed plan for how it could go digging into the lives of the journalists that report the company's many indiscretions. From the report:
Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending "a million dollars" to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they'd look into "your personal lives, your families," and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
The report went on to detail an occasion that an Uber executive poked around in a journalist's ride history without her permission, which is also creepy and weird.
The company later denied that it actually does any "oppo" research. But fuck you Uber. (That they're using the jargony term for it doesn't make a convincing case that they haven't at least considered it.) Journalists are simply doing their jobs in reporting on your unethical, hardball tactics.
If you are pissed at Uber for this or any number of other reasons, there's a very simple solution: Don't use it. Here are some alternatives.
This is exactly like Uber. Except the car shows up with a funny pink mustache on the grill, and you sit in the front seat instead of in the back. Quirky! Available in 50 cities and growing.
Though it's only available in 10 U.S. markets so far, Sidecar claims to offer the cheapest prices of any service. It's the only service that allows drivers to set their own price so that they stay competitive. Competition always benefits consumers.
The service formerly known as Taxi Magic is live in 60 cities with roughly 35,000 cars. Curb only works with professional taxi and for-hire services, which means that your driver won't be some half-wit moonlighting as a driver.
An international alternative Curb, Hailo links you with a professional taxi or licensed car service driver "in just two taps" across 12 cities worldwide This is a good good alternative to try if you don't like Curb but want to be driven by a pro. The downside? There are no us cities.
This is a vastly underrated method for obtaining a ride. It's not that easy to call a car everywhere, but in some of Uber's biggest markets people are giving the company loads of money when there are in fact much faster methods for getting a ride. In my Brooklyn neighborhood, the local car service is way faster than Uber, and the drivers actually know where they're going.
I am not being flip here. At the busiest times during the day on on weekend nights in big cities, getting around in a car is maybe the dumbest thing you can do. Hoping on rail service or bus lines with dedicated lanes is much faster than sitting in the back of a pricey cab.
Uber might have the biggest name in the automotive sharing economy, but there's no reason to give it your money if you have reservations about its prac. If you disagree with the company's tactics—and you should!—use any of the many existing methods for getting around instead.
This post has been updated to reflect Hailo's recent decision to pull out of the North American market.
Image by Michael Hession