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My Uber driver robbed me, so I took Uber to court and won (fymhotsauce.rocks)
588 points by fischerq on June 21, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 270 comments



I'm glad this worked out for the OP. However, I think he may have made a couple mistakes that could have been avoided for a smoother process.

The big one is not retaining an attorney. No, he doesn't have to for small claims court, but Uber clearly had its legal team looking at this. Now, I understand that lawyers are expensive and carry their own issues - but if he'd won the case with an attorney, he could potentially have secured attorney's fees as well. Plus, a good way to make a company cave on an issue like this is to say "direct all requests to my attorney; I'm not speaking to you on this matter."

I realize getting a lawyer isn't always feasible, though, especially in small claims, so I'll assume it just wasn't possible for this case (also, I'm not a lawyer, this is just based on my understanding of the small claims process). Still, giving Uber all the evidence in the case after a suit had been filed but before any discovery had been ordered was a misstep. Small claims court rarely has formal discovery - the process by which each side finds and turns over evidence to the other side. The OP was - as far as I can tell - under no obligation to give evidence to the Uber rep of any kind. He should not have; they used it against him. What he should have done was say "we can discuss this in court, or you can make me whole now and avoid that," and NOTHING else.

Edit: A line I really enjoyed from the piece: "They were a company that shows blatant disrespect to authority, operating illegally in cities and using technology to intentionally avoid law enforcement." Yep. That's Uber in a nutshell. Well played.


The guy only got $4K. Retaining a lawyer for just that amount wouldn't be worth it, would it? I have no clue how small claims works and how likely it is to have attorney fees be included if you win like you mentioned. The guy had to fly back to Boston again for the second time around. He'd also likely have spent some money in Boston like getting around. None of that was included in the final amount either. I'm not sure if a lawyer or someone more in the know how of how small claims/courts work would have been able to get it. And even if you can, how easy is it to get it.

Agree on the mistake of giving Uber all the info. The guy was trusting Uber not to be as scummy as they ended up being. I'm sure he has learned his lesson and next time regardless of company, especially once lawsuit stuff has come into play, will do what you said:

> What he should have done was say "we can discuss this in court, or you can make me whole now and avoid that," and NOTHING else.


> The guy only got $4K. Retaining a lawyer for just that amount wouldn't be worth it, would it? I have no clue how small claims works and how likely it is to have attorney fees be included if you win like you mentioned. The guy had to fly back to Boston again for the second time around. He'd also likely have spent some money in Boston like getting around. None of that was included in the final amount either. I'm not sure if a lawyer or someone more in the know how of how small claims/courts work would have been able to get it. And even if you can, how easy is it to get it.

It can be worth it, especially if - as OP mentioned - part of his goal was to prove his case to Uber, not so much to specifically recover the money. He didn't necessarily need an incredible A++ 10/10 lawyer, just somebody decent who could devote a couple hours to advising him and act as a go-between for settlement negotiations.

Having a lawyer levels you up in the eyes of court systems and corporations both. Is it perfectly worth it? Not necessarily. Is it very good advice for people considering any kind of legal action? I think so.


I agree that representation would be better, but in reality, a D- 4/10 lawyer would still be too expensive to be worth it here.


A lawyer could probably get him the:

-compensation for valuables in the bag

-compensation for software/files/etc

-compensation for time wasted

-compensation for di-stress caused

-compensation for tickets & hotel (if I get this right, the "victim" had to fly in for the court)

The Uber may had to cough-up 6-8-10k, the lawyer would get 2-4k for 2 hours worth of work and all would be happy


Unfortunately, there is a limit to the damages that can be claimed in small claims court. It differs from state to state. In Massachusetts, it is $7000 (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/small-claims-suits-ho...) .

He could go to regular court to claim a larger amount, but that's a more involved and lengthy process.


If you hire a lawyer, your going to regular court. As far as I know, most states if not all, don't allow attorneys in small claims.


For representation, no. But no small claims court would prohibit the plaintiff to take an advice from a lawyer - i.e. what documents to get, what to say, how to behave, how to formulate one's claims correctly etc. It may help, though not always worth it.


As I've mentioned in other replies on this chain, that's not true. Most states allow attorneys, and Massachusetts definitely does. It's just not usually considered necessary.


In California, it (being represented by a lawyer in small claims court) is explicitly not allowed. I guess each state is different.


Small claim process is really simple - you fill out the form, where you can detail your claims, supply the documentation and then present it to the judge. You can have a lawyer advising you, but not represent you, and you can include the expenses into the full sum of the claim, but there are limits on how much you can get - $10K in California right now - and you are not guaranteed to be awarded the full sum. Given the outcome - $4k payment - I'd say not retaining the lawyer was the right thing to do. Maybe talking to the lawyer for an hour or so to get advice may be better, but I kinda doubt it would have resulted in substantially more payoff. Or maybe a letter from a lawyer on official letterhead (that is usually not very expensive) may have made the process a bit faster as Uber would realize the plaintiff is not going to be scared off easily.


Can you adjust the amount? First he undervalued the backpack content. Then he had to trave back a second time because Uber lied to the police. If he can't adjust the amount, that's pretty lame and what I was wondering.


So this is my story. I didn't have the money for an attorney. Also I tried to deal with this out of court and that is expected in small claims. They only hear your side if you try and resolve it first, and that includes sharing evidence.


First of all, glad you were able to do this and keep Uber accountable - and thanks for putting in the effort where others would have given up.

It's expected that you'll try to resolve things before filing a suit, and it's expected to try to settle if possible once suit has been filed, but it's not my understanding that those negotiations necessarily involve giving info to the other party that isn't to your advantage except as part of actual discovery. Were you told at some point by the magistrate or court otherwise that you had to do that?


I called several attorney offices for a small claim court case (max $2k in that particular state iirc) and they laughed at me.


It's true that in small claims you often don't need one to represent you in the actual proceeding - and many lawyers, especially fairly "big" ones, would have no interest. However, retaining one to advise you on how to navigate the process, how to phrase your arguments, how to communicate with the opposing party, etc., is probably valuable even if they aren't running the case for you directly.


In most (maybe all?) small claims courts you are forbidden to have a lawyer present. Companies generally send an administrative assistant or something similar. You are welcome to retain an attorney before and after the hearing, but they can not be present during.


In Massachusetts, you may have an attorney in small claims court. [1] I think most states allow it, but it isn't super common to actually do.

[1] http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/consumer-assistan...


Not in California, fwiw. (Mention only because many people here are in CA, although I know the op is in MA).


My company had a fairly expensive lawyer on retainer when we had a $3-4k bill go un-paid and was forced to start a small claims proceeding in order to get paid. Since we had never been through something like that we asked him for help, and he did help us quite a bit, because it became quite a hassle.

I assume that he assumed it would just be a couple letters drafted and they would cough up, but they really dug in their heels and used the dialog between the lawyers to extend hassle, and it took a bit more than a few letters. We didn't settle until the day before the court date.

Needless to say the $500/hour bill for his services pretty much nullified the settlement, and when the process concluded he politely informed us that this was a little below his scope as our retained lawyer and to gladly not bother him again with things quite so trivial and time consuming.


>>he politely informed us that this was a little below his scope as our retained lawyer and to gladly not bother him again with things quite so trivial and time consuming.

Frankly, at $500/hour, I would politely tell him that I will bother him with whatever I need, he's not doing me a favour.


Courts do have their own small-claims advice service (for free too, I think) which serves the same purpose.


> However, retaining one to advise you on how to navigate the process, how to phrase your arguments, how to communicate with the opposing party, etc.

How, exactly does one "retain" a lawyer?

Is that a formal, monthly-fee kind of thing, for the ability to call them up for questions and advice?

Or is it more like an informal, having done business in the past, maybe for a larger lawsuit, getting to be friendly, and knowing a guy who knows a guy, sort of thing?


Retain means pay monthly.


Are you sure about that? My understanding is it simply means you pay a certain amount up front.

That money is held by the firm and Billings are placed against it until time to top it off again.


I wonder if an attorney would have taken this case pro bono for the opportunity to represent a case against a big name company such as Uber.


Yes, but probably not for $4k-worth stolen laptop case. You can't make your name as a lawyer getting compensation for a single stolen laptop. If that were a $400m nationwide class-action lawsuit, that'd be different matter.


I get that big companies are not your friend, but is it really necessary to wage total war by using all possible legal advantages and issuing ultimatums? "Here is the evidence I have that you're in the wrong" can sometimes hurt you later in court, but it can avoid the entire mess by convincing the party that they will likely lose, or yield a compromise.


> I get that big companies are not your friend, but is it really necessary to wage total war by using all possible legal advantages and issuing ultimatums?

Initially, no. By the time you're in a court of law, yes. Once you file suit - small claims or not - discussion time is over. If you make that decision prematurely, that's not great, but there's no taking it back except by dismissing the suit, which would have been a mistake.


>I get that big companies are not your friend, but is it really necessary to wage total war by using all possible legal advantages and issuing ultimatums?

Yes it is. Why? Because they won't hesitate to do exactly that to you in the reverse situation. In this (almost literal) prisoners dilemma, the corporation has already defected. You gain nothing by cooperating.


> I get that big companies are not your friend, but is it really necessary to wage total war by using all possible legal advantages and issuing ultimatums?

I think when you're facing a large entity and their thousands of dollars per billable hour legal team, it makes sense to leverage any advantage you can.


How would retaining an attorney work in small claims?


Well, an attorney might suggest they not use words like robbery. Robbery is defined, as a legal term. This is just simple theft. Robbery requires force, implied force, or fear.

It's going to suck if this guy gets sued for libel.

Theft is often a misdemeanor where robbery is often a felony. They are pretty different things, legally speaking.


IIRC it's the same as doing it anywhere else. You retain someone to represent you and they do so. In some states, you must appear on your own - but not in MA, I don't think, and you can still have an attorney advising you even if they can't appear with you.


Certainly in California you must represent yourself. But you can consult an attorney. They will point out the counter-arguments that you need to be prepared for, which is a very valuable service.


Any idea of the ball park costs for such consultation?

I'm looking at taking two parties to small claims court, over ~$1,000 USD, and wonder if it's worth the fees to seek legal guidance.


Nope, not worth it. Cheap lawyers are ~$250/hour.


Seems unlikely, at least in Australia it's common for lawyers to be $400+/h; even for a relatively simple case I was looking to have a lawyer review an employment contract.


The detective in charge of my case sent me the police report. She had contacted the official law enforcement department of Uber to get more information. She gave Uber the date and time of the ride, as well as the license plate of the vehicle and name of the driver.

The Uber department responded that they had no record of a trip from the vehicle with that license plate on December 5th, 2016, just after 11 PM, and the driver had not driven with them for 2 years.

Funny, I came here to rant that Uber shouldn't really be responsible for that and the OP should have sued the driver instead, but if this is their response then they totally deserved everything they got and more.

How is it even possible to get away with lying to the police like that? They should be in serious trouble for this alone.


Individuals lie to police. Corporations merely make unfortunate errors that they are only too happy to correct now that it has been brought to our attention, sir.


Damn, one of my driver drove with my girlfriend's phone, we were waving to him but he didn't stop. We managed to call him via the app and he said he would send it back to us but never did. After that it was impossible to do anything/contact him via Uber :/


This happened to me. The driver decided to drop me off in the bus lane (instead of the normal taxi/car lane) at an airport and encouraged me to get out quickly and drove off just as fast because we were in violation of airport policy. Very shortly after I noticed my phone was gone and was in his car.

I was able to contact him since I luckily had a tablet with data and I was using Project Fi but there was absolutely no good process to deal with this since it was impossible to get in touch with him.

Uber support was completely useless and in the end he returned it to one of their service centers. He never told me so and enough time had passed where Uber just recycles/destroys phones beyond a certain point.

I was absolutely livid about this. I only use Uber as a last resort now.


> I only use Uber as a last resort now.

I really don't get this. You are livid with the company and yet you will still continue to pay them. Why would they do anything different then? Why are there situations where you absolutely have to use Uber as a last resort? What did you do in those situations previously before Uber came about?


There are places where Uber is the only realistic choice apart from taxi companies who will try to scam you. Mexico City is an example.


It seems there's Cabify in Mexico City. I'm using them in Sao Paulo and their service is way better than Uber's.


At the very least Lyft seems like an option


There are places where Uber is the best choice. I can support a morally corrupt company (Uber) or I can risk my life every time I get inside an Eco Taxi (Green and white taxis in Mexico).


Both are criminal organizations. Your miles may vary.


Did you consider asking the police to file a criminal complaint against Uber for theft?


It appears that he forgot his phone in the car?


I wonder what recourse you have with a real taxi. I am sure the company contracting a taxi driver would consider firing a driver that steals your stuff. Especially after a few complaints. The main problem seems to be Uber's unresponsiveness to the whole issue. It would not be hard for them to set up some sort of system to prevent fraud and theft and to punish drivers accused of that sort of thing, and to kick them out of the system after a certain number of complaints.


This is a tired argument. Yes, it's harder with a taxi. Less proof / information about exactly which taxi you were in.

But Uber doesn't get to simultaneously claim to be safer than taxis because of the data being tracked whilst also not using that data to help prevent and prosecute crimes.


It's much easier with a taxi. Taxi receipts helpfully include the taxi cab number, as required by law in most big cities. Taxi drivers usually have more downtime between rides, especially in hotel/airport queues, so they are more likely to discover left-behind items that would otherwise be found and taken by the next Uber/lyft passenger. And finally, taxi companies also have centralized locations for storing lost items.


Assuming you get a receipt, remember the car number, or otherwise can identify the driver.

I've taken many a taxi ride and can count on one hand the number of times I've gotten a receipt (which was only because it for expense reimbursement).

Having a digital record in a receipt emailed to you or live in the app is a entirely different league of convenience.


Assuming you get a receipt, which I have only ever gotten when I specifically requested one for expense purposes.


and even then, in many cities i get some hand scrawled thing with an amount written in.


I've recovered a lost phone by providing a taxi cab number to the dispatcher who sent the cab back out to my location. I was ready to compensate them for the extra trip, but they didn't accept payment. That's something that simply isn't possible with Uber or Lyft.


During the 1.5 year time I was a lyft and uber driver I returned no less than 5 cellphones to their owners. There's even a url in your reciept email that will place a phone call to the driver for this exact situation.


And you think a dishonest taxi cab driver is going to issue you with such a receipt?

Most people don't want them or throw them away, I'm sure they'd be happy to offer to trash it for you. :)


It depends a lot on where you are, and whether you knew the identity of the car.

I once lost my phone in a private hire in the UK (these are essentially less tightly regulated taxis that cannot pick people up off the street, they must be pre-booked only, and are what Uber operates as), and having emailed the office kept getting told that he was going to hand it in to the police as lost property "tomorrow" for a number of days. In the end, I told them that unless he handed it in within a further three days I would go to the police and make a complaint of theft against the driver, with all the emails between me and their office as evidence that a) they knew who the driver was even though they wouldn't tell me, and that b) he had it. Surprisingly enough, it got handed in within a couple of hours after that.


There was no stealing involved, but I had a somewhat relevant experience a few months back. My grandmother was visiting me (in New York City) and accidentally left her pocketbook in a taxi that we took. After a long time of googling to try to figure out how to contact the cab company, I found out from a concierge at her hotel that there was a specific number you could dial to reach some sort of help line for the city (I think it was "311", but I'm not positive). I called the number and after listening to a recording for several minutes, I reached a point where I could speak a term and have it give me info on it. After saying "New York City cab company" or something like that, it gave me the option to give them a tax number so and they'd give me the number of the company. Luckily, I had paid for the cab with my credit card, and my bank app had the cab number in the transaction, so I was able to get the number for the company. After calling them, I got the number of the garage, who then gave me the cell number of the driver. I called him, and it turned out that he had heard us try to call the phone earlier (but couldn't get to the phone in time and couldn't unlock the phone to find the number to call us back at), so he went back to the spot where he had dropped us off to try and find us. He came back to meet us at the hotel, and we got the pocketbook back (and gave him a nice tip for his trouble).

From what I understand, cab companies acknowledge liability for their drivers, so they'd be much more inclined to take action against unscrupulous drivers. It seems plausible that people who want to use the pretense of driving others around to steal things from their passengers would be much less likely to want to driver for such a company, so I wouldn't be surprised if my experience with a driver willing to go out of their way to return items is much more common with taxis than Uber.


I left a DSLR in a taxi in Ballarat.

I live in New Zealand.

They couriered to me for free.

(I sent the driver a box of wine to say thanks).


I've had all kinds of positive similar experiences with people all over the world. Most people aren't out to rob you.


Yeah but that's Australia... ;)


I'm displaying my single use of Uber to date, but if the driver steals your phone, can you ever give him a one star review? I thought a couple of one stars and he never drives for Uber again. But if he inoculates himself from reviews, that is quite a hack of the system.


This isn't relevant. You might as well say it would be really difficult with a donkey ride, as they have no registration numbers


Wow what a crazy story. The twist half way through after the first court case was cool.

Trying not to spoil anything for someone who hasn't read or finished reading the article.

But first it sucks how much time was spent by everyone in the story especially the victim. It also sucks that if you have to go to court again because something comes up that shows the defense, Uber, in this case, did something clearly wrong that wasn't known the first time, you seemingly can't increase the amount you're suing for. So all the expenses of going back to court again, etc, come out of your pocket. That's lame.

But at least you won in the end^. I'll be weary of Uber from now on and my belongings. I can't completly stop using Uber because of friends who don't care. Finally, who knows how other companies would handle this. Probably better, but, I don't know.

^ not a spoiler like a commentor noted because the title and URL both say he won


... my bi-monthly reminder not to say anything tounge-in-cheek on HN, lest people trip overthemselves to remind you how you said something tounge-in-cheek and downvote you


That's also in the title, so isn't a spoiler.


Damn sorry that you were kidding around. I'm the OP and I thought you were being completely serious. I immediately felt bad for you and hoped you wouldn't get downvoted into gray.

I agree it is hard to be tongue in cheek on HN. I have to remind myself of that too.

At least your happiness isn't dependent on your karma ;).


> ... my bi-monthly reminder not to say anything tounge-in-cheek on HN, lest people trip overthemselves to remind you how you said something tounge-in-cheek and downvote you

just avoid the hassle and use "/s"


Yeah I wasn't going to include it until I verified the title and URL both include that. I'll clarify in my post.


To be fair the title has and won in it.


I don't get the "should have heard the car drive away and chased him" angle they twice tried.

He should be at fault for not being as fast as a car? Most people aren't going to be able to run at >10mph for very long, forget about anything more.

And even then, suppose he had caught up to the car and the driver didn't want to stop.

Just slimy.


That's not what they were trying to argue. They were trying to argue that the video of the car leaving as soon as he got out (and him continuing to walk away) proved that he was expecting the car to leave as soon as he got out, therefore he was lying to the court about having intentionally left a backpack in the car.


Could be some middle ground. That video doesn't really help his case to me. He knows the car is in the middle of the street, and not parked. The driver does start rolling while the passenger is clearly very close to the car. Even if you assume he didn't notice the car leaving, it seems to speak to the drivers intent. If the driver was intending to steal something, why risk pulling away when the owner of the bag is so close?

It's plausible to me that the driver didn't hear, or didn't pay full attention to the request to wait, and just pulled away...and that the bag was taken by a later passenger.

I would have been happy to get the money, and probably would have skipped the blog post.


This doesn't explain why the driver didn't return any calls. And in this case Uber could give data about that passenger to the police.


The driver might have realized (too late) what happened, if the driver noticed the second passenger left with a backpack they didn't come in with. Then gotten scared and decided to avoid calls and lie about things.


It shouldn't be possible to avoid police investigation just by avoiding calls. UBER should give all the details to the police and then the police should do their job and call the driver and the next passenger. Where I live (Poland), not responding timely to the police/court calls/mails would get you into big trouble and in the best case would end up in a fee and in the worst case you could be brought to the hearing by force.


That sounds like the sort of story a child would make up to explain why their hand wasn't really in the cookie jar.


Sure. I've heard of that problem, both with Uber and Lyft, on things that had nothing to do with fraud though. I don't know that either company does anything to reward drivers that answer calls/texts, or punish those that don't.


Sure, run after a speeding car flying into traffic, leave your other bags behind, risk your life so that you can stop a corrupt uber driver from robbing you. And if he refuses to give you your bag back, just fist fight him. Man up and take some responsibility!

Every day I hear something so ridiculous from Uber I can't believe it. Seems like Lyft's biggest advertisement should be "Lyft: we're not uber"


This guy took the high road - once he had the license plate and an address, this could have taken a very different turn. If you're into someone for $4,000, it's a coin flip whether they invest effort into getting it back, or invest another $4,000 for someone else to get you back. If you are going to steal from someone, always keep that in the back of your mind... you don't know what type of person you're stealing from. Maybe it's an easy mark, or maybe it's a vindictive psychopath that would love an excuse to pull your teeth out in his basement over the next 30 days. "Risk vs Reward" and all that...


> This could have taken a very different turn.

Until something similar happens to them, people often take for granted living in a society where the legal process is relatively accessible to those needing it.


Ultimately, Uber did not want to establish a precedent for liability. What they should have done is settled for $4,000 and forced the victim to sign an NDA, ensuring that this little conflict remained private.

Instead, in usual Uber fashion, the legal and HR team worked their magic and created a lose-lose-lose situation for themselves:

1. They established precedent for liability;

2. They obstructed justice, which could be used as fodder in subsequent lawsuits; and

3. They did nothing to prevent this story from being broadcasted far and wide.


I don't believe ruling before a magistrate judge in small claims court create precedent in a legal sense, though if you just mean it will inspire others to do the same, agreed.


For me, the most heartbreaking aspect of this story is the sheer amount of time and effort that had to be squandered.

You could probably have designed an app, coded a site, or written a small novel with that time.


Sure, but there is principle involved here which makes it worth the time invested.

The driver who stole the backpack full of gear should not be in a position of trust with other people's belongings. Following the thread to make yourself whole and also hopefully to have some repercussion for the thief is worth while.


IANAL, but he should have revised his damages for the second case to account for his expenses, including time. He probably could have won closer to $6000 without a problem.

The author comes off as deeply uninformed about how legal proceedings in the U.S. work, for example talking about how he had to refute arguments in court and such, which is just not how things work at all at that level. Some basic Googleing would have taught him all he needed to know about defending himself in small claims court without stress.


You can't usually get your own time costs back. Even suing for real actual legal fees (that you can document, such as payments to lawyers) is tricky and usually demands that an existing contract is in place to enforce this, or that the suit is frivolous, and a judge has to rule on the frivolity.

You can't just go to small claims court and say "I make $50/hr, and I've spent 20 hours on this, so I also demand an extra $1000"


This heavily depends on the judge, which court, and where. All of my cases which have been heard by a court I've been awarded money for my time.


It was a lot of time but for me it was the principle. I didn't want the company to get away with scummy antics like that.


Yeah, or you could get your $4000 back...


I'm just saying what a waste of time just because of this one strange random event.

I am not saying it was (or was not) worth it.


Sure, but you can't always optimize your life for 100% operational productivity/efficiency.

Sometimes it really is the principle of the thing. Also it's good to have this data point out there for people to see how Uber operates behind the scenes.


That code could have in turn saved other people from menial tasks. Enriching the lives of billions.


The natural conclusion is that someone should write a piece of code to manage evidence and file small claims suits in various municipalities.

Surely no one would ever abuse such a tool.


So in the end Uber got away with obstructing justice and the driver got away with theft. It is surprising that police cannot find the thief even knowing his identity.


That's the most ridiculous part;

in theory you could have discovery to actually get the drivers details and then take the driver to small claims.

in practice even for $4000 you're stretching it being worth it in many jurisdictions.


This is sad to hear, and while I don't use Uber anymore, I did have one great experience - my phone slipped out of my pocket into the car as I was getting out, and the car drove off as I got out and did not carry anything there. I was able to contact the last driver by logging into the app from a hotel employee's phone and arrange a pickup not too long later.

I gave her a generous cash tip and many thanks for doing the right thing, as I was far away from my home in the Bay Area (was in Savannah for a race).


A fun read. Glad the author prevailed. Not surprised at uber's action, sadly. Claiming they do not control the drivers' actions is their norm.


Is it really a fun read? I skimmed through the first few paragraphs and it seemed he mentioned dota, his dad, his old job, how his flight was...


I agree. It was like listening to my six year old tell me what happened. Every story begins when he woke.


Couple of mentions of watching films on his phone...


It is interesting if you skip the first 50%..


before uber, I don't think I've ever rooted for a company to fail


Oracle is in most people's list too.


Microsoft too


Why? Did Microsoft do something?


Anti-trust suits in europe, Embrace extend extinguish.

That list is shrinking though.


You could just use regular taxis again instead.


or I could use Lyft


Travis is walking away as a multi-million dollar man. This is whether you root for Uber or not.


I do not care about Travis that much as I care about the next victims of this rip-off machine what uber became in the recent years.


Some of us measure worth in things more than dollars, and some are the more impoverished for not doing so.


What does that have to do with this though?

Plenty of rich people aren't nice.


On a night out drinking, a friend invited their uber driver to join them as they had a great connection (this is Africa so its not really strange). At the end of the night, said friend forgot all his devices in the ride and after trying to reach the driver for days and failing, we reported the issue to uber. Uber called the driver and he denied he'd seen the devices. Uber basically gave us the finger and told us they could do nothing.


Sorry to hear, but this sounds like you friend's fault. How does he really knows that driver took these devices? Maybe he lost them somewhere else (he was intoxicated, after all) or maybe the next passenger took them? If this has happened in a bus, would you blame a bus driver too?


There were 4 of them out that night. And the driver closed for the day to hang with them.

After he dropped them, they realized the devices were still in the car, and immediately tried to reach him. And he never picked up.

Well, he never pursued the issue further and left it at that.

I've had some rather good experiences e.g. where the driver called me, and brought back the stuff to me after he was done at the end of the day and refused to take any money as a reward.

I guess it all depends on the person.


I wonder -- with a company culture on the lookout for loopholes and exploits in order to enter markets, do they tend to see that by default in the behavior of others? This guy got accused of deliberately leaving his bag in the car. There was also that incident with the rape, and the executive who brought back confidential files to discuss whether that was a fraud.

It is as if, "I think you are trying to commit fraud here ... because that is what I can imagine trying to pull off myself."


"I just didn’t buy that a company could just get away with that business model. Hire anyone with a car, facilitate everything, and have no responsibility for what happens in the cars."

If I got food sick from something I ordered off GrubHub could I sue them?


Butwith GrubHub, you know where the food came from and can take action against the restaurant. In this case, the rider had no way to contact or hold responsible the driver, and that in addition to Uber obstructing law enforcement efforts to locate the driver is what made them liable.


Your analogy is incredibly bad. Imagine if GrubHub itself provided the menu and contracted out to semi-anonymous restaurants to cook the food; then imagine that it wasn't salmonella or the like, but rather that the cook had pissed in the food; and THEN imagine that GrubHub refused to tell the police which restaurant cooked the meal and then blatantly lied to the cops that no food from that (still unnamed) restaurant had been on GrubHub's menu for two years anyway.

In that scenario, you're damn right you could sue GrubHub; they'd be complicit in the coverup of a crime.


No, but you could if their delivery driver robbed you.


GrubHub doesn't provide the drivers. They facilitate orders. They don't have anything to do with who delivers.


That was Uber's argument too. They lost.


It's an interesting thought exercise, but I don't think GrubHub is really the same situation. The restaurants that you order from on GrubHub exist as businesses and serve food regardless if GrubHub is facilitating delivery or not. If the GrubHub driver robbed you when they showed up at your house, then yes, I would think you might be able to sue them.


if grubhub's practices meant that you received food that made you ill, you may have a case.


If the food poisoning was due to negligence, I don't see why not.


I'm curious how far this line goes, too. If I go to Subway and a worker stabs me, does Subway owe me millions? I'm really confused how Uber is responsible here.. it just seems, odd, to me.

Now, if Uber as a company promoted (in one way or another) reckless speeding for the sake of fast drop-offs, and I get hit by an Uber driver, yes I think Uber is at fault (and the driver). However, why does it sound like Uber is responsible for everything "during work hours"?


If Subway tells the cops "I won't say who it was", and they say "he hasn't worked at Subway for two years anyway" (this being a bald-faced lie), AND the medical bills from the stabbing set you back millions of dollars... damn right, Subway owes you millions. They're making themselves complicit in the crime by obstructing justice, and making it clear that Subway was OK with the stabbing.


Oh I agree completely, but you're adding to what I said. There are many here saying Subway is at fault no matter what.

Eg, if they didn't do anything wrong, the person just randomly stabbed me, many here think Subway owes me millions. What do you think?

I disagree, it seems bizarre to me because Subway can't possible know what crimes all employees might commit and somehow fight to prevent that. Right?

.. actually let me ask you this:

In what scenario should Subway not be held liable? So many here blame Subway in my scenario, when they were not even involved.. so what does a company have to do to prevent being sued by employees random, un-predictable actions?


I agree on the oddness. In my mind, the story about a highly-tracked webapp-facilitated worker committing a crime goes something like:

Crime committed -> worker details go to police -> criminal conviction | current mechanisms for direct financial restitution from criminals to crime victims.

Or maybe in the case of no criminal conviction,

Crime committed -> (messing about with police) | John Doe lawsuit against Uber -> Driver details released -> Lawsuit against driver.

Don't get me wrong, Uber just sounds like a lunatic asylum, and their conduct in this case no worse than I'd expect. But it just seems so weird that the chain of events leads to a claim against Uber. I would honestly have expected them to have thrown the driver under a bus while staying rock solid behind their terms and conditions.


Yeah that... did the driver get arrested?


> I'm curious how far this line goes, too. If I go to Subway and a worker stabs me, does Subway owe me millions? I'm really confused how Uber is responsible here.. it just seems, odd, to me.

They could be. It depends on the process involved in hiring said worker. If there are little to no checks you could argue Subway was at fault (at least partially) for not properly vetting people being brought in.

Another item is you may have missed the part where Uber obstructed justice by initially lying to the police and not correcting it until it was the primary reason they were going back to court.

It's a nuanced and contextual issue, not a "how far the line goes".


Yes, you would be smart to sue subway for millions.


If you go into subway and an employee stabs you for no good reason you sue subway


Which is weird to me. Why is a company expected to be onmicient about their employees? Do we have to do psych evals on everyone to make sure they might not do something that the company could be liable for? Why isn't law good enough here? If Subway wasn't involved, isn't the law sufficient? Eg, a person committed a crime, Subway wasn't involved.

Do you disagree?


Note to self, "leave doors/trunks open UNTIL I am positive all my luggages are out of the car."


If I have luggage in the truck, I'm always concerned that the driver may simply forget and drive off. Leaving the passenger door open until you get your luggage is good advice.


I do this. I also keep the most valuable stuff with me (re: backpack on) while doing this.

But also generally the driver gets out with me to help get the luggage out...?


Given that the driver did this intentionally, is there anything preventing the driver from taking off with an open trunk? Hell, from the video footage in this article, even an open door wouldn't have done much. He could easily drive a block in a residential area with an open door and then pull over and quickly close the door.


Nope. Take off strong enough and the doors close shut, some trunks too.


Yea, I was giving the strongest form of the argument but this would probably work too. In the video, the guy took off pretty slowly to minimize sound so I didn't mention this possibility.


And good news, an EV has constant torque!


I tried reading this, when does the guy get to the point? I am not sure what Dota, or his dad, or his hot sauce or his awesome flight has to do with any of this?

Ok, go about 2 pages down, and you can skip the incredibly detailed discussion of his exiting the car.

This seems more like the driver thought he had all his bags, the door was closed, a simple mistake. But no, the driver was a master thief, spying him using stuff in his bag and racing off (at an incredibly slow pace according to the video).

Good on the guy for following up with this, and it is an interesting story.

> They were a company that shows blatant disrespect to authority, operating illegally in cities and using technology to intentionally avoid law enforcement.

This is true, and well known. And if you knowingly use Uber, you understand this.


You know, if Uber employees started going to jail when they lied to the government, the culture would probably change pretty fast.


Awesome work!! Great story about how awful the legal system is given the amount of effort and work you had to go through. You deserved a lot more than just that $4k.

I personally feel bad that it's only after reading this that I'm going to stop using Uber as well...despite all of the terrible stuff that's going on over there, I was willing to strike up to "growing pains" or "bad apples", since I wrongly believed they were 100% committed to their users. That's clearly not the case so there's no more Uber for me.


Not a single comment on here about using insurance. I know that a backpack with a laptop can be stolen out of someone else's car and cut-rate renters insurance will cover it. I don't really think Uber was the correct person to foot this bill, I think this is the same as someone grabbing your purse from you when walking down the street. You either have decent insurance or you're SOL


If Comcast sent a contractor over to your house, to hook up cable, and the tech stole your TV, is Comcast liable for this?

If you check into a hotel, and the bellboy steals your luggage, is the hotel liable for it?

If you hired a roofing company to fix your roof, they subcontracted it to another firm, which came and set your house on fire, are the roofers also not liable? Especially after they spend a few months trying to prevent you and the police from getting in touch with the subcontractors?

This smells of criminal conspiracy.


>I think this is the same as someone grabbing your purse from you when walking down the street.

It is not the same as someone grabbing your purse when you are walking down the street.

Unless the person who grabbed your purse was hired by you through an agency to hold your bags and walk you down the street before they ran off with your purse.


My insurance didn't cover it


Can I say that I had the inverse experience where an Uber driver drove off with something that I left in the trunk of the car.

He went to considerable effort over multiple calls over a few days of coordinating and attempts for me to get it back, until eventually I got it back intact.

It was a first class customer service experience.


I'm glad it worked out for you.

It enforces the point of the article: your experience with Uber is entirely influenced by your driver.

If you happen to have a bad one (like the author), Uber takes no responsibility (contractor contractor contractor!), and your only recourse is considerable time and effort taking them to court.


What I don’t understand about Uber after all these months/years of them being horrible to customers is: Why?

#1 rule of capitalism is to coddle your customers as much as possible at every possible expense while still remaining profitable. Why does Uber act so 2nd World?


11 paragraphs of self-promotion before getting to the meat.


It's a blog post on a personal site. Your editorial opinion is not required.


I wanted to give people knowledge of what I went through so they would be able to avoid what happened to me.


I'm about to go to bed so I only skimmed through the first 10-11 paragraphs, but how is your dad calling you, and what you used to do before, and how comfy your flight was, relevant to the story? Maybe it was, and hey, it's your story, but my thought was "Damn, he got off on a tangent, on a tangent!"


The comfiness of the flight is the reason for taking the photo that was then used in court.

Yes, it is relevant.


"I'll allow it."


If you read a little further, they were important details because the author used them as evidence in court to show he had his bag with him on the trip.


I'm very happy for your successful kickstarter and your relationship with an LoL team is quite cool, but it doesn't exactly appear really naturally in your post.


Obviously I am longwinded. I was trying to give backstory as to why I left my IT career to make hot sauce. I had a successful (record breaking) crowdfunding campaign that gave me the confidence to change my entire life.


found your reddit AMA after reading this story, super cool. Just ordered a hot sauce sampler <3


Any anecdotal stories about losing items in traditional Taxis? The first clerk didn't think that ever worked out, wondering about that claim...


You would probably get zilch. People think filing a suit against Uber is bad because they big and have lawyers and stuff. But at least there's a large target. Try suing a private cabman, when you discover owner of the license and the driver are completely different people, and nobody wants to talk to you, and their terms of service, which you have never seen but implicitly accepted, say they are not responsible for anything. And unlike Uber they are not concerned at all about the bad press, and if you sue them them might obstruct and delay you every way possible (or the driver might just disappear and the owner disclaim any responsibility because they just own a medallion and have no idea about what the driver does when), and even if you win they could just refuse to pay up and you'd have to figure out how to get money out of them, while living on the other end of the country.

At least Uber is a big target that can be found, forced to disclose the data that you know they always have, and if you win, you have reasonable assurance you get the money.


I thought traditional Taxis assumed liability.


Who exactly assumes it? Driver? Whoever hired him? Whoever owns the medallion? I think it'd be non-trivial to even figure out who to sue, let alone win it.


You should've added like $50K of punitive damages. The fact that they lied to the police and got away with it is crazy. You didn't even break even, considering how much time and research you spent.


This.

"Ultimately I am sad that the company that is trying to reform the taxi industry is so corrupt."


I don't fault the driver. He's just following the normal standards of conduct for business transactions in Massachusetts.

I say this as someone who had the misfortune of growing up there.

I'm only being sarcastic about not faulting the driver. Unless you're trying to grow your customer base or know the person you screw them. It's just how things are done.


Uber and Lyft are here to stay and if not them then someone else. Cabs suck.


did anyone else notice this blog post is on site that sells hot sauce?


Yes, we did. Quoting from the post:

> If you didn’t know, FYM Hot Sauce was the first sponsor for the professional DotA 2 team, “Team NP. [...] When Team NP (who had never qualified for a major tournament) made it to the their first major tournament, held in Boston I decided to go and support them.

> If someone tried to run off with a bag full of hot sauce in one of my other suitcases it would be awkward and ultimately not a huge deal


Actually because I use NoScript, nothing at all shows up when I visit that URL.

Empty white page.

Defective site design.


"I block HTML and your site doesnt load for me, defective site!"

I know JS isnt HTML, but at this point, it basically is. Complaining that a site is broken because you choose to break it is just astounding.


> but at this point, it basically is.

Normally, I find belly-aching about something not looking right or not working right because NoScript is on is silly.

But I find it astounding that this page requires javascript to display the text of a _blog post_. What is so important that your site completely shits the bed and fails so badly that it shows nothing but a white screen.

Frankly, I think Shopify just purposely sabotages the page because they want you to enable javascript so they can enable analytics and track you across their sites.

Not to mention they load code from Google APIs, Google Analytic, Shopify.com, Embed.ly, Gfycat.com, and Mlveda.com, which means I'm suddenly running code from websites I never intended on visiting. Why should visiting https://fymhotsauce.rocks send a road flare to all those services?

You're right, this is the new normal, but it's shit and we should be complaining.


That's not why the site is broken if you're using uBlock/NoScript. It's broken because it loads everything (even the text of the site) from 3rd party domains and scripts.


The text is there. You can see it if you disable CSS.


It works with JS disabled if you also disable CSS.


This reads a lot like The Rosie Project, which is a great read!


What kind of snacks did you eat on the plane?


Deleting Uber


>Before my hot sauce set a record on Kickstarter

I would've liked to know more about this relevant detail.


$64k in 2014, $13k in 2016. Pretty sure that's just his inner salesman speaking.


I get that the court process is the main part of the story, but I still can't believe that you left $4k worth of equipment in the car with a stranger. I guess I'm just much more paranoid. Also, that's how I view taxi drivers as well as Uber/Lyft drivers. Sure there are some protections like background checks and tracking, but at the end of the day it is a stranger we don't know, and anything could happen, so we probably should at least be a bit hesitant.


I won't make that mistake again. If I were giving someone a ride I would have helped them with their bags and not thought about taking them. I assumed people shared that quality.


Interesting story, but I think it was a bit unfair to Uber. I'm glad this guy was made whole, but I'm not sure Uber's reluctance to paying you 4000 dollars because a driver stole your backpack qualifies as corruption.

From what I can tell, the worst thing Uber did was not be sufficiently cooperative with the police investigation. This part of the narrative is extremely muddled and unclear, so it's hard to take a strong position on their behavior here.


FTA: What Uber told the police.

"The Uber department responded that they had no record of a trip from the vehicle with that license plate on December 5th, 2016, just after 11 PM, and the driver had not driven with them for 2 years."

"Sufficiently cooperative" (per you) and outright lying are two very different things.

FTA:

"Why would Uber not have the information on the driver for the police? Uber asserted that they don’t have the ability to look up the drive information of my trip with the information provided (license plate, car make and model, name of driver, time and date of trip, and pickup and drop off location of trip) as it was a violation of privacy. "

Uhhh... what? It violates privacy? Your either complying with the police or you aren't. "There was no warrant" would have been an OK answer, but that wasn't what they said.

They aren't being muddled or unclear here, they are literally avoiding giving answers that would make them look bad. Maybe if they had been more honest and responsive the items could have been recovered rather than the blame falling on Uber.


>"The Uber department responded that they had no record of a trip from the vehicle with that license plate [...]"

This kind of thing worries me a bit.

This past week I've taken two Lyfts where the license plate provided in the app didn't match what the driver was actually using. One of my drivers claimed they had just gotten a new car, but that's a bit odd to me since when I bought a new car it took several weeks to get my license plate.

So there should be ample time for a good driver to ensure their record is up to date.


> One of my drivers claimed they had just gotten a new car

That can happen, you don't even need a new car for it. I've bought a car with one license plate missing, and when I went to DMV to ask what to do with it, I just was issued a new set. One other time, on another car, my back license plate disappeared - still have no idea what happened to it, I suspect it was stolen, but I have no idea where (how often you check the license plate on your own car?) or why. It's very easy to steal it, it's just two screws, so it was gone, and I went to the DMV and got another set. Some of my documents still list the same car under an old license plate. So it's not impossible to have several sets of plates for the same car, and it's very easy to get a new set.

Getting license plate btw can be very fast - at least in California, once you're in the DMV they just have a stack of plates sitting there and they take one from the top and give it to you (obviously, after you waited in the line and paid and filled in the documents, etc. - that may take time :) Brand-new car may take longer or if you get them by mail.


Did you report the driver? The one time that happened to me, I asked the driver and showed me that he had both cars registered in Uber and had selected the wrong one.


Honestly no because I wasn't sure what the process is for that.


Well you start by taking photos!

First and foremost for your own safety.

Second just send them to CS. If something terrible ever happens and it shows up on the 11pm news, at least you can say "I tried" and the company can't run and hide from its bad policy


I've bought cars that came with plates and I've bought cars where they had to mail them to me. I think it varies.


True.

It's just a bit odd to me that the driver wouldn't think to update the plate number in the app, or that uber/lyft would be so slow to update it.

I doubt it's a human in the cloud who sees a notification that a driver would like to update their plate number and then adds it to a queue to work on.


I doubt the guy was trying to pull something over on you. I don't drive for Lyft but I feel like it's one of those small easily missed details that's very important to a small subsection of your customers and no one else cares.

Having used Lyft countless times over the last few years I know I have personally never checked the checked that the plate matched.


Oh, definitely.

However, usually that's the way I identify the correct driver. For instance Priuses are the more common car and sometimes it's easier to memorize the first 4 or so digits on a plate than the make/model/color that my driver is driving.

But on the other hand, it's still a small issue at least because in some rare circumstance somebody could use it maliciously.


I'm saying the article is muddled and unclear, not Uber.

> "The Uber department responded that they had no record of a trip from the vehicle with that license plate on December 5th, 2016, just after 11 PM, and the driver had not driven with them for 2 years."

How do we know this is a lie? It could be true due to driver fraud (driving a different car than the one they have registered with Uber). Or it could have been some kind of mixup on their support team.

> Uhhh... what? It violates privacy? Your either complying with the police or you aren't. "There was no warrant" would have been an OK answer, but that wasn't what they said.

"It violates privacy" and "there was no warrant" aren't mutually exclusive, feels like you're splitting hairs here. If a request violates privacy, that's a good reason to ask for a warrant.

Also, you left out this confusing paragraph:

"It was later asserted that they reached out to the police detective to clear this up. They found the information and tried to contact the detective with all the information. If you are curious as to when this happened, it was April 9th. Uber did everything in their power to make the investigation successful and cooperate with the detective, on April 9th, 2017, four months after the incident. They also only reached out to the detective with the correct information once they were caught obstructing the investigation."

It's still unclear to me how exactly Uber obstructed the investigation but maybe my reading comprehension is lacking.


> It's still unclear to me how exactly Uber obstructed the investigation but maybe my reading comprehension is lacking.

Im terrible with dates so stuff like this slips by me ALL the time!

- Monday, December 5th, 2016, the crime

- Uber tells police that they "don't have a record of a trip..."

- March 3rd, 2017. first court date

- April 9th, uber amends statement to the police. We do have records but won't share due to privacy...

You know, telling the driver that they are a matter of a police investigation and that they would be sharing data with them (aka cooperating) would have given uber a leg to stand on. Uber saying "We gave all the info to the police, it is out of our hands, we don't control our contractors" goes a long way in court. Lying, changing your story, tends not to.


Except in the author's own narrative, Uber explicitly acknowledges that a trip and a theft took place during the first court date.


Right, and that isn't what they told the police, the first time. Only after court when it was clear that "it didn't happen" will never hold water, did they go back and amend that record with them.

This is literally how you get charged with "obstructing justice" --- you shut up or you tell the truth.


Are you talking about this part? It seems a pretty thin statement on which to rest an allegation of obstruction.

"The Uber department responded that they had no record of a trip from the vehicle with that license plate on December 5th, 2016, just after 11 PM, and the driver had not driven with them for 2 years."

This still leaves a lot of open questions and is IMO not even a compelling allegation of obstruction of justice, let alone proof. As I said before, it's entirely possible that the actual driver/car were not the ones registered with Uber on the account. It's also possible that somebody erred when looking up records, or a million other things.

What we do know is that by the time this made it to the first court date, Uber was not denying that a trip or a theft took place.

I'll reiterate my fundamental argument since this has strayed a little bit: this article is muddled and confusing with regards to cataloguing bad actions by Uber.


You can be damn sure Uber has a record of every Uber ride ever taken. Even if Uber had incorrect records in their database about which car picked up the rider, because the driver had e.g. failed to update Uber with their current car and plates, there is no plausible reason why Uber would believe that the ride itself had never occurred, because they have the rider's account information. They could have produced "rider account X requested a trip in Boston on such-and-such date, we matched that person with driver account Y, and driver account Y was registered in 20xx to Vernon Dudley, 4 Privet Drive, ...". But they deliberately didn't provide that information.

"this article is muddled and confusing"

Reality is muddled and confusing. Real life never has the clarity of an omniscient third-person narrator telling the reader the actual facts of the matter.


If Uber did their best to help the investigation then they could look up information not only by license plate, but also look at customer's account, look what rides were taken at that location and time.


Giving out detailed info just because somebody calls and says "he stole from me" would be a violation of privacy and if Uber acted this way it would be vulnerable to basic social engineering. Involvement of the police makes it more substantial, but not enough alone - you can just tell the police "he stole from me", get the info, and then tell them "oh, it was a misunderstanding, never mind" and the police would never bother to verify what happened. OTOH, if there's a warrant, that means you testified under the penalty of perjury it happened, and then if you lied, you can be prosecuted, so it is a barrier most social engineers won't want to clear.

However, if Uber claimed they can not do the lookup, that would be a lie. They definitely can, they may not want to do it for some reasons (e.g. that may be sued by the driver if it turns out it was a scam on the part of the passenger, and maybe even in case it's even a simple misunderstanding - people have been suing for less), but no question they can. If they lied to the police and the court, that would be a huge mistake.


I was looking for my ride history from Uber a while back, as I have been a rider since pretty close to their inception date in SF.

I sent an email to support asking for my full ride history, and I asked what was the date which I created my account as I wanted to know how close to the birth of Uber I signed up...

I was told that I couldn't have any of that info as it was a violation of privacy.

I found this bizarre as it was my account info I was seeking.

---

When Uber had the "party" thing happen, I thought it was going to be an interesting lottery to attend an Uber corporate as a user.

Turned out it was simply a ploy to measure how many people they could get to tap on the lottery button, then deliver them to Harlot, a club in SF which typically charges a cover to enter, but there was no cover - the bar was still full price and at the end of the lame party, everyone was just standing on the corner like any other schlepp.

I was amazed that Uber had arranged this "secret party lottery" where the driver only knew the location and would pick you up and drop you at the party... but they didn't arrange for any pickups from the party to take you back home.

I had asked some Uber party planners that were there at the time if they intended on sharing any of the user behavior data gathered from this experiment, they laughed and said "not a chance"

It was the lamest secret party ever - and given that they didn't even cover Uber rides home after taking people free to a bar, I thought it was very poor on their part.


> I was told that I couldn't have any of that info as it was a violation of privacy. I found this bizarre as it was my account info I was seeking.

Does seem bizarre. Do other companies provide this information? I can't imagine Amazon or Facebook not telling you. But I've never tried. Facebook and Google have their data take our services (I know neither provide everything especially FB), but maybe that includes the info. Amazon at least shows you your entire purchase history, equivalent to ride history.

--

The party stuff just seems funny in a sad way. I never heard of it before.


There is a tab in your Amazon account that lists every single thing you've bought from them on that account. I have purchases going back to 1998 in there.

Uber is maybe in a little different position because they're in danger of outing a cheating spouse if they give up that info. Maybe a better option would be to let you access all of your trip info, but have an option to hide certain trips? Sort of like private browsing mode in your browser?


Ah good points about Uber being in a different situation.

Yeah there should be some solution.


But in that situation, if the data is mine, I should be able to access it. If they are hiding the data from me so as to not affect my potential relationship with another person, then that is even more ridiculous of a reason to hide the data.


But then you have to prove to Uber that it is you and not someone pretending to be you who has stolen (or "borrowed") your phone. This is a hard problem.

The cheating spouse was only one example. Another might be a girl in a repressive social setting getting information about contraception. There are legitimate, lawsuit baiting reasons why this information is risky to disseminate too easily.


Then better option would be to delete history.


When one of your customers accuses one of your agents of stealing > $1,000 of stuff from them you should get to the bottom of it. Anything else is poor customer service and apparently also enough to get a magistrate to rule them liable for the theft.


Oh no, that's not the Uber way. They're not agents, they're independent contractors and the Uber rep said in court "we have absolutely no control over what they do, and no responsibility for what they do"...


Which is a blatant lie, or else Uber wouldn't bother with the expense of driver background checks and the like.


The narrative around that is crystal clear. He filed a police report, and when the police went to Uber they gave incorrect information. They cooperated exactly like an accomplice giving a false alibi, actually.


Is it?

"It was later asserted that they reached out to the police detective to clear this up. They found the information and tried to contact the detective with all the information."

"If you are curious as to when this happened, it was April 9th. Uber did everything in their power to make the investigation successful and cooperate with the detective, on April 9th, 2017, four months after the incident. They also only reached out to the detective with the correct information once they were caught obstructing the investigation."

How exactly did Uber obstruct the investigation? What incorrect information did they give? Maybe I'm thick, but it's not clear to me at all from the article.


Because it meant that the narrative at the first trial was that he was making it up. "Awfully fishy how you have all this evidence of the existence of something and then it was immediately stolen", "and we don't even have a record of a trip or driver matching that".

Which lead to them only being found 50% liable the first time.


That's not true at all, in the narrative of the first trial the author makes it very clear that Uber did not deny that the trip or theft happened:

"The one good thing that he did was he did not deny the contents or existence of my backpack."

"One point the Uber rep gave was that I should have heard the car driving away and chased after him."

"The Uber representative said that their drivers are independent contractors and as such, they are not responsible for making sure that they respond to any phone calls, and actually had zero control over what they do."

"Uber said that the driver had a good standing, but was very evasive when asked if he had taken any more trips that night. The Clerk made him answer that there was only one more ride given. This alluded to the possibility that the other passenger could have taken the bag from the backseat."


Wonder if the other passenger was also stolen from, which would have led Uber to amend a report after the hearing.


"the worst thing Uber did was not be sufficiently cooperative with the police investigation."

Lol, as if that's acceptable for any company in an investigation. I'm not sure if you're playing coy, but your words are trying to insert doubt into his story when there really is none.

They blatantly tried to make this guys life much more difficult than it needed to be and their track record has shown they really have a culture of not caring about this stuff no matter the "narrative".

Quite frankly, I'm surprised this comment was voted to the top.


I'm all for being cynical and weary of mob hating. However, the article shows many times Uber is not trying to do anything.

The driver seemingly didn't get reprimanded or properly investigated by Uber. We don't know this for sure, but based on what went down, this seems to be the case. Uber lied to the police. Uber tried to turn it around against the victim for having so much evidence. When the victim was incredibly lucky to have a few of his evidence items (like photo on plane and security camera).

The victim (and police) were never able to get in contact with the driver. Shouldn't Uber have some sort of way for a customer of a driver to get into contact with said driver? The current way made it far too easy for the driver to get away with robbing the victim. This is possibly most damning against Uber -- they don't seem to be doing anything to change things. Perhaps they are. Changes don't happen overnight and they don't have to be transparent if they are trying to better things. So I'll definitely be humbled and retract my assumptions that Uber isn't trying to better things if they do in the coming months.


In court they said the driver was with them in good standing.


Yeah that's why I said the driver seemingly didn't get any sort of reprimanding or negativity from Uber. I used seemingly because Uber lied to the cops. Can't rule out they won't lie in small claims court.


> The driver seemingly didn't get reprimanded or properly investigated by Uber.

Sure he did. He got a 1-star rating - surely this will weed out the bad agents from the system.


Yeah the victim would surely give a 1 star. But I was basing what I said on when the article said:

> Uber said that the driver had a good standing

They could've been lying of course.


> I'm not sure Uber's reluctance to paying you 4000 dollars because a driver stole your backpack qualifies as corruption.

I honestly can't imagine what else you would call it, except maybe "belligerent incompetence".


They were found 100% liable only after they were discovered obstructing the police investigation.


I dont think its unfair at all. If uber profits from the trip, they should be ensuring the safety of the trip and passengers, end of story. If uber were a non-profit that simply matched drivers to riders, it would be different, but they are making profit... that makes it a little more on them to handle stuff like this.

If a contractor for a public utility like a phone company comes in your house on a repair call for said phone company and pisses all over your couch and takes a dump in your fish tank, do you think that the phone company has no liability for setting up the whole thing and sending someone like that into your house?


uber could have gotten much worse if they were charged with obstruction of justice. Their employee accused the victim of trying to play a scam on them (why do you have a picture of yourself etc.). How do you classify this behaviour?


What's funny is the poster is upset Uber wouldn't give up the information when simply asked for when that is just how the world works, you can't get a judge to look at your evidence unless you hire an expensive lawyer. It was an ok guide on what to do but the blame game is just strange.


Can we please stop excusing corruption and incompetence with "that's how the world works"? It only works that way because we let people get away with it. Giving the runaround to a paying customer who was robbed by one of your employees is not any kind of good business practice.


Really poorly written. Spends far too long in getting to the event, and really confusing about the court proceedings.


The guy makes hot sauce, what do you expect? I thought it was a pretty good read. Although I'm familiar with FYM from Dota 2. (Love Team NP)


Sorry, I am not a writer by trade. I was trying to give every bit of information and I know it was longwinded but I am not good at cutting things out.


Misleading title. Robbery is theft by force or threat of force. Although the author says he was "robbed", he alleges theft by driving off with his bag, no violence involved.


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/robbing

to remove valuables without right from (a place)

Does not need to be violent to be a robbery


The legal definition is different than the dictionary definition.

In California for example, “Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear."

I know of no case holding that driving off with a person's property is "force."

This probably would fall under theft in a criminal proceeding in Cal.:

Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft.  In determining the value of the property obtained, for the purposes of this section, the reasonable and fair market value shall be the test, and in determining the value of services received the contract price shall be the test.  If there be no contract price, the reasonable and going wage for the service rendered shall govern.  For the purposes of this section, any false or fraudulent representation or pretense made shall be treated as continuing, so as to cover any money, property or service received as a result thereof, and the complaint, information or indictment may charge that the crime was committed on any date during the particular period in question.  The hiring of any additional employee or employees without advising each of them of every labor claim due and unpaid and every judgment that the employer has been unable to meet shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud.


OK, so we've established that the legal definition is different from the dictionary definition. Now we just need to figure out if the OP is a blog post or a legal filing and we'll know which definition we should use.


> The legal definition is different than the dictionary definition.

The legal definition is irrelevant, since the use in the title is not referring to the legal offense at issue in the lawsuit (which is not the crime of robbery, sure, but also not the crime of theft that you spend most of your response discussing the definition of for a jurisdiction other than the one relevant to the article, but instead a tort, likely—though unspecified in the article—conversion or something similar) but a common-language description of the event.


different from* ;)


It's a legal term, the legal definition is that robbery involves physical force or fear: http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2015/01/whats-the-differenc...


As this is not a court room we are not so bound.


Merriam-Webster also added a definition for "literally" that means "virtually."

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literally

So sure, you could cite a dictionary as license to use words in misleading ways because other (confused) people have made an unhelpful definition commonplace. But some people actually care about using words to convey meaning, and care about the difference between "robbery" and "theft."


The "difference" between robbery and theft exists primarily in legal jargon, and was never sharply defined in common usage. Regardless of your distaste for "literally," the dictionary is a much better source on colloquial usage than the penal code.


Literally does mean virtually now. If you care about using words to convey meaning, you should care what other people think words mean. What you think is pretty much irrelevant if everyone else disagrees with you.


> Literally does mean virtually now.

: ( I don't disagree with you, and I get that prescriptivism is a losing battle (and the wrong battle, IMO), but this one bothers me, because we actually _lost_ expressive power.


No we didn't. Exaggeration is a normal part of language, and every strong-sounding word will be "misused" for effect sometimes. "This heat is killing me", "I'm in love with this ice cream", "I swear to god...", etc. It's almost always clear which version of "literally" someone is using, and I suspect the exaggerated usage is as old as the word itself.


> It's almost always clear which version of "literally" someone is using

None of these examples are relevant.

> This heat is killing me

No ambiguity in the misuse here, since you would literally be the first person who had ever talked to the living dead.

> I'm in love with this ice cream

"In love" isn't well-defined. How is this even a misuse?

> I swear to god

Again, how is this a misuse? You might argue that people swear to god too casually, but that's a far cry from somehow claiming that you're certain that the person doesn't _actually_ mean they're swearing to god.

By contrast, I've already personally come across cases where people used the word literally and were misunderstood as meaning "a lot". On more than one occasion!


If a word has two definitions that have opposite meanings, then the word literally doesn't have any meaning at all.

> What you think is pretty much irrelevant if everyone else disagrees with you.

You don't think I can find a single other person who agrees with me?


> If a word has two definitions that have opposite meanings, then the word literally doesn't have any meaning at all.

First, this is wrong; many words have multiple meanings some of which are diametrically opposed; they still have meaning, though it may take awareness of context to interpret the correct meaning.

Second, its irrelevant; the different meanings of “literally” are not opposites, though the figurative use (which does not, contrary to some descriptions, mean same as “figuratively”) is often presented incorrectly in a manner which suggests that. The figurative meaning is a qualitative intensifier applied to another figurative description which the speaker expects is clearly figurative from context, not a description which communicated that that use is figurative rather than literal.


The use of "literally" is only necessary in contexts where it is in question whether the meaning is literal or not. So it's hardly sufficient to say that we can infer from context whether the speaker's meaning is "clearly figurative", since that is exactly the ambiguity that the word "literally" is used to resolve.


> The use of "literally" is only necessary in contexts where it is in question whether the meaning is literal or not.

The use of literally with its meaning of “not figurative” is only necessary in those contexts where it is unclear without the additional term whether a use is figurative or literal.

The use of it with its meaning as an intensifier of a figurative statement is only necessary (or appropriate) when it is already clear from context that the use is figurative and cannot be literal.


This analysis doesn't give the speaker any room to challenge the listener's expectations about what is possible. If the listener thinks a thing is impossible (particularly in a way that sounds potentially hyperbolic or humorous), the speaker can no longer use the word "literally" to clarify their meaning.

Worse, as usage of the second meaning grows, it encroaches on one's ability to use the first meaning unambiguously. If the second usage becomes more and more commonplace, with the bar constantly lowering on how unbelievable something needs to be for this usage, it affects everyone who wants to use the word functionally.

> The use of it with its meaning as an intensifier of a figurative statement is only necessary (or appropriate)

That's awfully prescriptivist of you. Go with the flow, man! I'm literally done replying on this thread.


> This analysis doesn't give the speaker any room to challenge the listener's expectations about what is possible.

Sure, it does; first, “context” includes everything other than the words used, including the manner of the speakers presentation, and, second, the rest of the English language is still available. One can, for instance, explicitly state, “not figuratively”. It's true that—as is true in general with figurative uses—the more common they become in situations where speaker and listener may nit view context the same way, the more they require verbose circumlocution to disambiguate literal from figurative use. (The use of “literally” in it's literal sense is almost entirely such a circumlocution made necessary by such issues with figurative uses of other words and phrases, for instance.) This affects figurative use of “literally” the same as any other figurative use of language.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-antonym#Examples

"cleave" and "sanction" are probably the most familiar examples here.


Off as in "The alarm went off" is another great example. You can tell the state changed, but not if it started or stopped.

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