Uber’s reputation may never recover, even if the new CEO manages to swoop in and wave a magic wand full of goodwill. The company’s sexual harassment scandal and the #DeleteUber campaign caused the company to lose 500,000 riders over surge pricing and never-ending scandals, and the turbulence won’t ease anytime soon. Now, the City of London refuses to renew Uber’s license to operate within its confines.
That’s major. Back in August 2016, The Guardian wrote that an estimated 30,000 Londoners downloaded the Uber app per week (to total 3.5 million Londoners who have used Uber at some point) as an alternative to using the often-crowded Tube or black cabs. Millennials embraced the convenience (despite reports of hidden fees), but Uber’s license is due to expire at the end of September 2018. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the ride will then be over:
“All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect — particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”
According to CNN Tech, London cites Uber’s lax attitude in reporting crime and the greyball software it used to evade authorities while illegally operating in some cities. However, Uber has fired back in a statement:
“Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.”
If more cities follow London’s example, this could truly put Uber out of business despite the company’s determination to change their operating practices. Add London’s hostility to a former Uber investor making noises about investing $1 billion in Lyft, and Uber might need to think about ride-sharing off into the sunset.