Uber Dismisses “Rape” and Assault Customer Service Reports As Typo In Leaked Report

It should come as no surprise that Uber, a company not especially known for its rigorous screening of employees for the safety of its users, have received a lot of customer service reports detailing rapes and sexual assault enacted by their “contractors” to the people that use the service.

But, as leaked screenshots obtained by BuzzFeed over the weekend from a customer service rep showed, the sheer amount of these tickets reporting incidents of sexual assault and violence is higher than you might have thought.

Data supplied to BuzzFeed buy Uber claimed that between December 2012 and August 2015, the claims that the company received regarding sexual assault or rape are very low — five claims of rape and “fewer than” 170 claims of sexual assault.  But, the screenshots provided by the former customer service representative tell a very different story.

In one screenshot, a search query for “sexual assault” returns 6,160 Uber customer support tickets. A search for “rape” returns 5,827 individual tickets. Other variations of the terms yield similarly high returns: A search for “assaulted” shows 3,524 tickets, while “sexually assaulted” returns 382 results.

Once BuzzFeed started poking around, Uber “began contacting customer service representatives in its system who had searched the Zendesk database for the terms….apparently in a hunt for the leaker.”

Naturally, the company insists that the leaked screenshots don’t paint an accurate picture of that’s really happening, but that’s normally what any company would say when they’re caught with their pants down, so to speak. Uber gave BuzzFeed their own numbers, without revealing how they reached the numbers, but insisted that the information obtained by BuzzFeed from their very own system was “significantly overstated.”

So, why are the overwhelming majority of those rape claims as captured from Uber’s very own internal helpdesk overstated? Here’s what Uber had to say

These results are highly misleading because:

  • Riders routinely misspell “rate” (as in the fare) as “rape”, or use the word “rape” in another context. For example, “you raped my wallet”;
  • Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included. After analyzing the data, we found more than 11,000 rider names and 17,500 rider emails with the letters “rape”;
  • The results also showed tickets from passengers who got into cars not on the Uber platform, or who were discussing unsubstantiated media reports of sexual assaults.

Never mind the fact that BuzzFeed literally has the screenshotted proof of multiple customer service reports of sexual assault and rape. Never mind the fact that Uber and other ride-share providers routinely rack up complaints about assault, the volume of which required the creation of  a website to collect the reports.

Uber’s there for you when you need a ride, I guess, but the fact that they’ve suggested that “if an email address or rider/driver last name contains the word “rape” like “Jason Rape” or “Don Draper” it will be included when queried” as a possible explanation for this oversight is a clear indication that they’re not really there for you at all.