back to article Uber drivers game Uber's system like Uber games the entire planet

Uber drivers are resisting Uber's algorithmic management to raise their wages and to push back against uncompromising computer control. As described in a study presented earlier this year at the Theorizing the Web Conference in New York and the 4th International Workshop on the Sharing Economy, in Lund, Sweden, researchers …

  1. Commswonk

    Dear Uber

    It might be worth developing some understanding of "Perverse Incentives" and the "Law of Unintended Consequences".

  2. Don Dumb
    Coat

    I see what you did there

    "To some extent, people can be expected to look for ways around technological obstacles to self-interest. Efforts to bend or break rules have existed throughout history."

    Are we still talking about the drivers' behaviour or about Uber's general approach in adhering to legislation?

    1. Fatman

      RE: Re: I see what you did there

      <quote>Are we still talking about the drivers' behaviour or about Uber's general approach in adhering to legislation?</quote>

      Both!

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

    Well duh.

    Uber is perceived very negatively by just about anyone with a brain.

    The fact that such a sexual-harassment-encouraging environment, overseen by empowered scumbag jackasses is also generating revolt in its very elements that generate its revenue is hardly surprising.

    The fact that there is now a study making it official is interesting.

    1. Richocet

      Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

      It would be more interesting to conduct a study to see if Uber runs any part of their business ethically.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

        Welcome to the new economy, it's remarkably like the old economy - Them and Us.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

      Nope, only black cabs....

      Consumers appreciate the less than half the price fare, the better security of knowing the car that turned up was the car you orders, and the honest reciept that shows your route, and trip data.

      Used it in Maidstone at the weekend, our uber was £13 and exactly who it was when it was, where it was supposed to be, mates paid over £30 for a grubby taxi for the same trip.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

        A friend ordered an Uber from a drinks evening we'd been at in South Kensington despite there being a plethora of Licensed London Black Cabs. Up pulled a car a few minutes later we both got in and noticed that this wasn't going to be the most luxurious ride we'd ever had. Then we headed off and the driver was totally relying on sat nav for his directions which always worries me. My friend says she needs to give instructions on getting to her place as it's surrounded by a relatively new one way system and difficult to reach. The driver didn't speak amazing English but just pointed at the sat nav when she asked him to turn left or right. After he missed the crucial turning for the second time she said just drop us here please and we got out. She also said there are quicker routes of getting to her place than the route he took and he clearly either didn't know them, or his sat nav didn't.

        I won't use Uber because I don't like the fact that they wanted to track the movement of every user even if they weren't using the app. Also anyone who can pass The Knowledge is better than me at remembering stuff and has earned some respect for that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

          Essentially it's your choice to pay for "The Knowledge", it's cost is about an extra 50% onto your journey, you also get the added smell of burgers in the back of your cab, and an annoying obnoxious London Cabbie who wants to try and talk about what he read in The Sun / Dail Mail that morning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

            Like most techies?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

        "the better security of knowing the car that turned up was the car you orders, and the honest reciept that shows your route, and trip data.

        Used it in Maidstone at the weekend, our uber was £13 and exactly who it was when it was, where it was supposed to be,"

        You mean like Addison Lee have been doing for years? a text wth make, reg, colour and drivers name and another when he's outside for good measure?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

        RE: Used it in Maidstone at the weekend, our uber was £13 and exactly who it was when it was, where it was supposed to be, mates paid over £30 for a grubby taxi for the same trip.

        Uber runs at a huge loss.

        Rather than disrupting, they are actually subsidising all rides - which are, by definition, below cost else they would not run at a loss. They are dumping below cost to drive the competition out of business, something illegal outside of the services industry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

          Uber aren't subsiding, this is the real price, they take their cut on the fares, and in some regions provide the leasing for the vehicles.

          Taxis are a rip off, old, smelly, insecure by comparison. I would user Uber every time without question, and seriously have to question the negativity here as being from losers from the burnt business models.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

            I'd rather be in Licensed London Black Cab where the driver has passed the Knowledge, criminal checks etc. than an Uber where the driver is relying on sat nav and I don't know anything about his credentials.

    3. Just Enough

      Re: "Our study shows that Uber's strategy is perceived very negatively by drivers"

      It shouldn't come as a surprise that people will be much more inclined to cheat and bend the rules if there is no obvious victim of their cheating.

      If Uber presents itself to their employees (yes, Uber, that's what they are) as a soulless, anonymous automation, then their employees are not going to have any qualms about gaming the soulless, anonymous automation.

      The message here is that if you have no relationship with your employees that resembles anything human, don't expect to be treated as such.

  4. kain preacher

    So if they can not turn down fairs then they are employees.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Who would turn a fair down? They're great fun.

      I particularly like the ferris wheel.

      1. Joe Harrison

        I had a mate used to work on the ferris wheel ride but he got the sack. Took them to court though - clear case of funfair dismissal.

      2. kain preacher

        Last time I went to a fair I got food poisoning . avoid the curry goat.

  5. jason 7

    Whatever way you look at it...

    it's a mugs game.

    1. hplasm
      Happy

      Re: Whatever way you look at it...

      it's a mugs game, life.

      /Marvin.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Alfie

        "Seems to me, if they ain't got you one way they've got you another, so what's the answer, that's what I keep asking myself, what's it all about?"

        1. Aladdin Sane

          Re: Alfie

          Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.

          Dread Pirate Roberts (original, not online version).

          1. O RLY
            Headmaster

            Re: Alfie

            "Dread Pirate Roberts (original, not online version)"

            To be pedantic, Westley wasn't the original. But I do love the quote and use it when appropriate.

  6. ma1010
    Mushroom

    Hmmmm

    Uber. I say we dust off and nuke the site from orbit. Only way to be sure.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    "The gig economy" AKA "dock labor" --> divide and rule by computer --> organised labor

    Is anyone else hearing hearing the voice of Danny Trejo saying "$70 day for yard work, $100 for roofing, $125 for septic"

    Only in this case it's the passenger who asks "Have you ever killed anyone before?"

    Sounds nasty.

    Is.

  8. John Robson Silver badge

    Uber doesn't have any workers...

    At least that what it claims. Then again I'm pretty sure they'd claim that money didn't exist if they thought they could evade some more tax

  9. David Roberts

    On a positive note

    It looks as though other services might be eating into Uber's market share by offering better terms and conditions.

    Could be time to order popcorn.

  10. Chris Collins 1

    Uber is by far better for the customer.

    e.g. yesterday I left a GP surgery, logged into uber app, when I did the order, a driver accepted within 30 seconds and he was just round the corner, picked up within a minute of order.

    Meanwhile a standard taxi firm will tell you "in 10 minutes mate" after 15 mins you ring and ask where the taxi is "just round the corner mate" then 30 mins later it arrives.

    With uber either the driver or customer can ring each other directly.

    Also I can see where they are on GPS, cross the road if needed so easier for them to pick me up, I expect its favoured by both drivers and customers, as drivers have said they love that payment is electrical so dont need to worry about unpaid fares.

    Vastly superior.

    1. KatyN

      Depends on where you are really, the taxi company I use round here the average vehicle age is 7 months, you can pay cash or card with no fees, generally I wait less than 5 minutes for a pickup, you can order by the app or by phone, and they send an SMS with the vehicle reg, model etc, driver details plus a tracker link showing you where the vehicle is.

      Suppose Uber might win on pricing if they are just making their own price up rather than using the fare set out by the local council.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        YMMV

        "Depends on where you are really,"

        Hammer, meet nail; nail, meet hammer.

        Or, to put it another way, your mileage may vary.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Uber is by far better for the customer.

      Of course it is - if you live for the short term gain.

      But what happens when the below-cost, venture-fund-subsidised rides succeed in driving out the more realistically (but higher) priced competition?

      1. StatsBoy

        Re: RE: Uber is by far better for the customer.

        Even if Uber drives out the competition...the moment they jack up prices competition will reenter the market.

        It's a car service....there are literally no barriers to entry beyond a car, a phone and a pulse. That's why government stepped in years ago in most places worldwide and limited competition through regs, medallions, etc.

        Uber is the kozmo.com of the 2020's. Great for consumers, but a crap business model.

    3. jason 7

      Just wait till your employer tells you he doesn't need you any more because he found someone on an app that will do your job for £10 an hour.

      But on the bright side he said he's take you back tomorrow for the day if you dropped to £9 an hour but that's not to say the other guy won't work for £8.

      And the race to serfdom continues.

  11. Anne-Lise Pasch

    I'm on the pro-Uber (from consumer perspective) side of the argument. The benefits over standard taxis are immense. Knowing who, when, where my taxi is (and sharing that information with family for safety sometimes) is what I want/need. I could wish the company itself was better, but I don't want the service broken. I want it fixed.

  12. MJI Silver badge

    I would like......

    A box fitted that ahocked the driver in the nuts when they do not signal at roundabouts.

    2 roundabouts in a row, Uber sign on door, did not signal at all, twat!

  13. Cuddles Silver badge

    As above, so below

    Uber bends or breaks whatever rules it can in order to benefit itself. Uber's drivers bend or break whatever rules they can in order to benefit themselves. This isn't about the poor put-upon drivers desperately fighting back against their overbearing masters, they're all part of the same company and they're all behaving exactly the same way; the whole company is rotten from top to bottom. That's the thing about workplace ethics, the people underneath tend to follow the example set by their superiors; if the people at the top are complete arseholes, you're not going to see the rank and file all working together to make the world a better place.

  14. knarf

    Customers???

    At no point does customer needs and wants feature in this, its all about screwing them for every penny.

  15. anothercynic Silver badge

    Quelle surprise...

    ... I am not surprised at all.

    And customers are the ping-pong ball... I actively discourage friends from using Uber, and given that the drivers are now getting in on the act of screwing their customers over (nevermind all the other 'fun' they have at the customers' expense), even more of a reason to *not* use Uber.

  16. Earth Resident

    Bollacks, I say!

    The company has no obligation, either moral or legal, to reveal the nature of their server scheduling algorithms. We Uber drivers agree to a contract where Uber finds the gigs and we fulfill them as subcontractors. This is no different that the IT assignments I have had in the past.

    If drivers are attempting to game the system, they are hurting themselves (thereby reinforcing their own complaints) and helping me because I play by the rules scrupulously. I let the server lead me because it's easy to see how it works and as an IT professional, analyzing the behavior of systems is what I do.

    All the server does is ascertain the area within which you are driving and assigns riders accordingly. I noticed in the very beginning that I was regularly being directed to pick-ups in places I had quite recently passed. As a result, when I Uber, I simply establish a territory and get longer rides between two established points.

    I do not gravitate towards areas where there is a surge taking place because all that means is most riders are delaying until the price comes down. If you play by the rules, and that is what I always do as a professional, the server can take care of you. It's not, repeat, not a lot of profit especially if you're not working a large city. However, when one agrees to a contract, one should fulfill its terms to the letter.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber alles

    Does anyone else think Germany when they see Uber?

    All together now,

    Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles

    .

  18. Jim84

    Natural monopoly/duopoly

    Ride sharing apps have a network effect (who is going to browse more than two) and so are a natural monopoly/duopoly. Except that unlike a railway the underlying infrastructure isn't that expensive.

    Governments/Cities should legislate so that all apps have to feed job requests into a central database/marketplace, which service providers can then bid on. This will reduce Uber/Lyft/2Gethere to makers of slick app interfaces rather than ogliopolists, but so what?

    In the past black cab drivers were ripping off fare paying customers, now Uber is ripping off drivers, lets just make the market work properly and end the economic rent seeking behavior. Unfortunately cities seem to be ignoring this basic economic tenant and are instead restoring cab drivers' rules limiting supply (e.g. New York, Paris).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Natural monopoly/duopoly

      I'm crowd funding for a new app, it's called " Cab! ".

      Please give donations to the driver.

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