Around 2014, after an outcry about assaults occurring in its cars, Uber unveiled a $1 “Safe Rides Fee.” This program was meant to increase the company’s background checks, safety education, and to enhance additional measures.
As it turns out there was a fundamental issue with the new plan. See, the fee didn’t actually go to address any of the issues it was meant to solve. Rather, the money went straight into the company’s pockets. This information was reported by reporter Mike Isaac.
“According to employees who worked on the project, the Safe Rides Fee was devised primarily to add $1 of pure margin to each trip,” he says. “Over time, court documents show, it brought in nearly half a billion dollars for the company, and after the money was collected, it was never earmarked specifically for improving safety.”
Uber disputes this notion and argues the money does, in fact, go to help boost their safety efforts.
“This fee supports the increased costs associated with our continued efforts to ensure the safest platform for Uber riders and drivers,” the company said. “Those include an industry-leading background check process, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, current and future development of safety features in the app, and insurance.”
Despite all this effort, Uber couldn’t avoid an eventual $28.5 million settlement, about 6% of the projected $500 million of revenue the fee produced. They also had to edit some of their marketing messaging from phrases like “safest ride on the road.”
Uber made a point to say that despite their best efforts no form of transportation can guarantee 100 percent safety. In fact, they altered the language of their marketing to reflect this fact.