Uber's "Safe Rides Fee" Was A Lie For More Profit
In 2014, Uber faced bad publicity over drivers assaulting passengers. So they rolled out a new $1 safe rides fee on every trip, pledging to use "industry leading" driver screening to ease anyone's fears of getting into a stranger's car. Your cab driver might spend the whole ride snorting lines off a flensing knife, and your Lyft driver might pull up with a necklace of human toes and a running chainsaw, but with Uber, you were safe. The safety fee was right there on the receipt!
The new fee was a huge selling point that brought in an estimated $500 million over the next two years. It was even higher in some markets, costing $1.35 in San Francisco, presumably to fund anti-Zodiac screening, and a whopping $1.65 in Los Angeles, where each car had to be equipped with a turret gunner in case they drove past Harvey Weinstein's house. We're just kidding, of course. What Uber actually did with that $500 million was ... absolutely nothing.
Tero Vesalainen/ShutterstockWell, correction: What they probably did with it was fill a pool with cash and paddle around like Scrooge McDuck. You just didn't get anything from that fee.
Uber never planned to roll out new safety features, and its driver screening remained a joke. The whole program boiled down to a few instructional videos, which were unlikely to stop the Mazda Mangler from striking again. An Uber insider later said the fee was "devised primarily to add $1 of pure margin to each trip. It was obscene." It does take a certain kind of depravity to read passenger safety horror stories and only hear cartoon cash register noises.
In 2016, Uber was sued and paid a settlement of $25.8 million to passengers. That's about 0.82 cents per passenger, and as any math teachers in the audience may know, $28.5 million is substantially smaller than $500 million. But don't worry, Uber was also required to rename the "Safe Rides" fee to a "Booking" fee -- a brutal punishment which we're sure will dissuade corporations from ever trying something like this again.
GrubHub Uses Fake Contact Info To Stop You From Ordering Directly From Restaurants
The world of food delivery technology is run by cutthroat maniacs born 300 years too late to be actual pirates, and GrubHub is the best proof. They charge a hefty marketing commission on orders, even if the restaurant itself delivers the food. But of course, if you order directly from the restaurant, they get nothing. So GrubHub is running scams to ensure the horror story of "local restaurant makes money" doesn't unfold.
Let's say you're browsing for a new fried goat testicle joint on Yelp and find one that looks good. You click on the listed number in the app, speak to someone at the restaurant, and get your six-pack with ranch from one of their in-house drivers. That all seems straightforward, right? Except surprise, that wasn't the restaurant's number at all! GrubHub sets up fake phone numbers and promotes them online. They redirect you to the restaurant's actual number, but GrubHub records the call and charges a marketing commission, while their "partnership" with Yelp enforces the scam.