The popular livery and union-busting service Uber is catching heat in Brazil because its drivers keep getting robbed and murdered. This isn’t the first time that the company has struggled with murder in its ranks. But holy shit, a recent report has some horrifying new details.
Reuters just published a lengthy exposé about how Uber’s new cash payment service coincided with an uptick in crime—including robbery and murder—against drivers. Because Uber does not show a driver the destination of a potential passenger before they accept the ride, some find themselves in favelas late at night.
Take the account of Brazil’s first Uber murder after the introduction of cash payments, which sounds simply horrifying. Reuters reports:
A few blocks from their destination, the passengers – who hailed the ride on the Uber app with a false name – drew two blue-handled kitchen knives. They repeatedly stabbed the 52-year-old driver and drove away with his black SUV as he lay bleeding in the road. Two of his fatal wounds were so deep police would first mistake them for bullet holes.
The driver died from his wounds.
So what’s to be done? Well, since Uber is a profit-hungry capitalist enterprise, you can go ahead and assume that it wants to keep accepting cash payments— as Reuters noted, “demand took off” when they were introduced. This method has proven successful in developing countries where credit cards are less common, even though it makes it much tougher to track down passengers if they, for instance, rob and murder a driver. Nevertheless, cash payments account for some 30 percent of Uber’s business in Brazil and a substantial portion of business in the rest of Latin America and Asia, according to Reuters.
But at this point, we shouldn’t be surprised that Uber has a murder problem. As long as the service have been around, both drivers and passengers have found ways to unleash brutal attacks on each other. There have been Uber-related murders everywhere from California to Detroit, an assault with a hammer in San Francisco, and of course, that widely covered incident involving a drunk Taco Bell executive beating the shit of his driver in a parking lot.
It took Uber five months to implement policies in Brazil that would help the company keep track passengers using social security numbers. This happened six days after Reuters contacted Uber with questions about multiple murders and robberies. Yet, it only takes a few seconds to delete your Uber account for good and support more responsible companies that have less of a murder problem.
We’ve reached out to Uber about this murder problem and will update this post if we hear back.
Update 2:00pm - Uber got back to us with some figures about Brazil and its cash payment option. These figures include such sobering statistics as, “Of the 50 most violent cities in the world, 21 are in Brazil.” The company also added that over half of the rides in São Paolo’s outer boroughs are paid in cash, and that the company “care[s] deeply about the safety of drivers.” There’s also this letter which was sent to Uber drivers in Brazil yesterday:
Since we first launched Uber in Brazil, you have made transportation possible for millions of people—many who live in places that were previously hard to access.
Over the last few months, we’ve heard from drivers with concerns regarding crime, which remains a major challenge in Brazil and one that impacts all members of the community. That’s why we’ve been working on additional safety measures dedicated to Brazil.
We wanted to update you on some progress on this front.
Today we launched a rider verification feature that requires new riders who choose cash payment to enter in their CPF (Brazilian national ID) before they can request a ride. This adds to the risk-prevention measures put in place late last year to detect and thwart suspicious cash riders before they take trips. We’ll also continue piloting in some cities an opt-out option for drivers who don’t wish to accept cash payments.
We care deeply about your experience with Uber. And even more about your safety. Thank you for speaking up. Please continue to send us your feedback.
GM, Uber Brasil