A man alleging to be a ‘Boston Uber driver’ answered questions from Reddit users earlier this week, and made serious allegations about the company’s safety practices.
The Reddit AMA, titled “As requested, I am a Boston Uber driver. AMA,’’ was held on Tuesday. The host used the screenname rwbombc and offered only his first name: ‘Richard.’ To assure Redditors that he was the real deal, ‘Richard’ posted a profile and a photo of his car.
In an interview with Boston.com, ‘Richard’ provided additional information, including his full name. But Boston.com was unable to positively confirm his status as an Uber driver due to the fact that he was not comfortable with his full name being shared with Uber representatives. ‘Richard’ gave Boston.com permission to publish the photo of him that was posted on Reddit.
(Update: Shortly after this story was posted, ‘Richard’ was asked by a Redditor if having his photo published on this site caused him to worry about losing his position as an Uber driver. He isn’t. “If I lose my Uber account, I go work Lyft, no worries here,’’ he wrote. Lyft is a competitor of Uber that also operates in Boston.)
Given what he said about his alleged employer, that makes some sense.
Perhaps most notably, he mentioned that it’s very easy to begin working with Uber. According to ‘Richard,’ a non-violent felon works as a driver.
‘Richard’ told his Reddit audience: “There is no interview. They pretty much hire everyone. The application process takes 15 minutes then two weeks for a background check. I have never talked to anyone in Uber management.’’
‘Richard’ also answered a Redditor who asked whether he carried “weapons’’ should a potential “self defense’’ situation arise: “I have a kubotan/glass breaker for emergencies. I have a pocket knife that is more for utility than anything. A female driver I know carries a massive blade.’’
But was ‘Richard’ actually an Uber driver? Uber seems to think not. (Or at least they would like you to think not.)
Taylor Bennett, an Uber spokesperson who was unaware of the Reddit AMA, quickly suggested ‘Richard’ might not be an Uber driver after all.
“Sounds like a taxi driver,’’ he told Boston.com, adding, “It’s common knowledge taxis are opposed to Uber.’’
Bennett reminded Boston.com that “not everything on the Internet is true.’’ (Wait, it’s not?!)
“All driver partners must pass our rigorous, industry-leading background screen that includes multi-state, county, and federal checks. The bottom line is Uber is the safest way to get around town,’’ Bennett said.
Is ‘Richard’ simply a taxi driver looking to smear his new disruptive competitor? Or is ‘Richard’ exactly who he claims to be? Safe to say we may never know.
Anyway, here are excerpts from the Reddit AMA:
The questions and answers have not been edited for grammar and spelling.
Q. “What is the process to become an Uber driver? Interviews were like?’’ – jfu_
A. “ There is no interview. They pretty much hire everyone. The application process takes 15 minutes then two weeks for a background check. I have never talked to anyone in uber management. You need a clean license, proof of insurance and registration. Full disclosure: I know someone with a non-violent felony(fraud) and that person passed the screening. You do not need to own a car, just be insured for the vehicle you are using. In addition you can add additional vehicles to your account like an SUV. I’m not sure about this, though I think you can add drivers to your account as well and subcontract them. Payout is up to you.’’
Q. “Do you carry any weapons for potential self defense situations?’’ – mikeism
A. “ I have a kubotan/glass breaker for emergencies. I have a pocket knife that is more for utility than anything. A female driver I know carries a massive blade. To be honest, I have never once felt unsafe due to riders. I would feel differently if I was 5’2’’ and had a carful of drunks though.’’
Q. “I have heard that drivers can rate passengers. Is this true?’’ – rosythewench
A. “ You get a rating from us, yes. I’ve never turned down a rider though because of rating. You can actually lose access to uber if your rating is too low. That would be extreme though, like a serial puker or something. One of my riders, an uber driver himself, said he picked up a girl who seemed mentally ill. She started kicking his seat and was having a random fit. He physically removed her from the car and gave her zero stars and told uber he was concerned about his own safety. I haven’t even come close to anything like that’’
Q. “Do/can people do this as a full time thing? Can one make enough money being an Uber driver to live in the area? Just curious.’’ – Meestah_Feesh
A. “Absolutely! You can easily take home a thousand a week with a 40+ hour week. Easily. Edit: be aware uber does NOT take out taxes. You will need to do this yourself each tax season when you file.’’
Q. “What is the worst fare you have had? The best?’’ – D3m0nzz
A. “ Worst fare was the other day. A middle aged woman I picked up in beacon hill was acting haughty and asked me to put on Snoop because she had “come from a yacht party in the harbor and he was playing on the radio’’. Like i cared. I told her I’m a driver not a DJ. she did not take kindly to this and asked why I don’t have XM. I told her XM isn’t on demand and only something like Spotify is. Then she asked if I had spotify and I replied yes but I don’t have Bluetooth in my car and she ended up getting really frustrated. Then she made me cycle through stations and she found nothing she liked. Then she said I was going the wrong way according to the GPS. I wasn’t wasn’t but she made me back up on mass ave against traffic. I hate HATE fares from beacon hill. They all tend to be very uppity and entitled as far as ive encountered. BTW, you can learn a lot from someone just from the tone of their voice. I don’t get a good look at my riders honestly. Her tone was very short and curt. Best fare was a girl who was shamelessly hitting on me. She was not unattractive.’’
** Richard was then asked if he got her number and he made it clear he did not, because he did not want to risk his job.**
Q. “Have you had any confrontations with cabbies who realize you are an uber driver? What’s the longest fare you’ve taken?’’ – slinkymcgoo
A. “ One cabbie the other day was honking at me then pulled up to me and called me a dumb animal in a thick accent. My rider and I were confused because I had literally done nothing Longest fare was newton to mass general to alewife. $60 in rush hour traffic. Kid was very good about it. He knew it would cost a lot but he was in a rush.’’