Uber Facing Backlash For Trump Response

Posted: Feb 2 2017, 2:09pm CST | by , in Latest Political News


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Uber Facing Backlash For Trump Response
image: Uber

There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground when it comes to President Donald Trump. Now, even businesses are getting caught in the debates. Some companies, like Starbucks, came out strong against Trump’s Muslim ban by promising to hire 10,000 refugees. Even those who tried to stay out of the fray, however, wound up suffering from backlash from one side or the other.

One such business is Uber.

The Uber Controversy

On the first night of Trump’s effort to stop certian imigrants from entering the country, many people were protesting around New York’s JFK airport. In an effort at solidarity, New York taxi drivers were boycotting the airport to express support for immigrants. Uber’s New York operation tweeted, “Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient.”

Surge pricing is when the prices for rides go up. By expressing that the Uber team would be willing to drive people around at the usual rate, many read it as a response to the strike of the taxi drivers — essentially becoming scabs. Uber’s response to the controversy came late — after midnight, the company tweeted that they weren’t trying to break the strike and that they opposed Trump’s ban.

The damage had been done, however. The company’s response to the ban was too lukewarm for some, especially in light of how they seemed to be trying to profit from it. It also couldn’t have helped their cause when Lyft — Uber’s only direct competition — came out strong and clear against the ban. With its $1 million donation to the ACLU, those looking to boycott Uber didn’t have to make much of a decision.

The Aftermath of Uber’s Response

It’s still too early to know just how much Uber will be affected by this boycott. Activism is strong right now, and how long these boycotts can stay strong on both sides is unclear. Uber has been a mainstay for New Yorkers for a while, and Starbucks has weathered such controversy before.

What’s interesting is how these acts of political defiance are affecting corporations, many of which have ties to Trump. Lyft never stopped service to JFK during the protests, but a strongly-worded tweet against the ban and a big donation have left them in the clear, despite investors that include Trump’s close associates, Carl Icahn and Peter Thiel.

Uber will survive

An early participant of the sharing economy that has so rapidly developed in the last few years, Uber, Like Lyft and AirBnB, is a business whereby people share what they have — for a fee. For those needing a ride, Uber offers safe and inexpensive service. For drivers, it offers a way to use your ride to make money.

One little app connects riders and drivers, with less wait times and less expense, though the expense part can depend on the situation. The company has been growing incredibly over the last few years, mostly by using advanced mapping techniques to find which cities to enter, and then showing employees how easy it is to work for them in their own time. They’ve been growing fast, but they’ve also been losing money incredibly fast — at a rate that would tank most businesses. However, they are still going strong and keep expanding. These kinds of controversies tend to blow over quickly, especialy when there's always a new, larger one on the horizon.

For those looking to protest with their wallet, it may not be as simple as who is tweeting what they want to hear.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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