A Running List of Uber's (Predictably Lukewarm) Apologies 

By Melanie Ehrenkranz on at

On Monday, Uber apologised after Uber Bangalore sent out a “totally inappropriate” promotional message for “Wife Appreciation Day,” offering users a discount on UberEATS in order to “let your wife take a day off from the kitchen.”

“We’ve removed it and we apologise,” the company wrote in a tweet.

It’s not exactly surprising that a billion-dollar company known for its invasive user tracking, shady spyware, and contentious leadership would have to issue an apology. Uber has dropped quite a few of them over the last few years. Just Google “Uber apologises” and your screen will instantly be flooded with a deluge of missteps. Or you can scroll down for a running list of regretful acknowledgements from both the company and its leadership. But this list shouldn’t be mistaken for a complete catalogue of Uber’s fuck-ups—Silicon Valley only eats humble pie for optics.

In June of this year, Uber sent an email to New York City riders that hadn’t been using the ride-sharing service as frequently, a source told Business Insider.

“In expanding so quickly, we failed to prioritise the people that helped get us here,” Uber said in the email. “Ultimately, the measure of our success is the satisfaction of our riders, drivers, and employees — and we realise that we have fallen short.”

The email also acknowledged the workplace harassment allegations that Susan Fowler’s blog post had put on the radar. Fowler has not herself received an apology from the company. But that’s likely because this email was intended to lure back some of the hundreds of thousands of users Uber lost following the #DeleteUber campaign.

Also in June, Uber apologised to a woman who was raped by a driver in India in 2014. It was revealed that executives at the company had mishandled her medical files. The woman filed a lawsuit against Uber in light of the new information, prompting an apology from the ride-sharing service.

“No one should have to go through a horrific experience like this, and we’re truly sorry that she’s had to relive it over the last few weeks,” a spokesperson told the Verge.

Again in June, Uber board member David Bonderman issued an apology after he made a sexist joke during an all-hands meeting discussing gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

“I want to apologise to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment that was directed at her during today’s discussion,” Bonderman wrote in an email to the company. “It was inappropriate. I also want to apologise to all Uber employees who were offended by the remark. I deeply regret it.”

Bonderman resigned from the board that same day.

In May, Uber apologised to the city of Austin for “leaving the way we did.” The ride-sharing service had stopped operations in the city after losing a vote that would require more rigorous background checks for drivers.

“We’re sorry, Austin—for leaving the way we did; for letting an honest disagreement about regulations and consumer choice turn into a public fight; and most of all, for not being able to serve you for the last year,” Uber wrote in a statement on its website. “It was never our intention, but we let down drivers, riders, and the broader Austin community. We’ve spent the last year listening carefully and learning from the mistakes we made. While we can’t change how we got here, we can and will commit to getting it right this time around.”

In February, a video surfaced of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a heated argument with one of the company’s drivers over a drop in fares. “You know what? Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” Kalanick is heard saying to the driver, who disagreed with Uber’s business model. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else.” Following the leak of the clip, Kalanick emailed his staff an apology.

“To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement,” Kalanick wrote in the email. “My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away. It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

Earlier that month, Kalanick apologised to staff during an all-hands meeting following Fowler’s blog post alleging workplace harassment issues at the company.

“Travis spoke very honestly about the mistakes he’s made — and about how he wants to take the events of the last 48-hours to build a better Uber,” Arianna Huffington wrote in a statement on the company website. “It was great to see employees holding managers accountable. I also view it as my responsibility to hold the leadership team’s feet to the fire on this issue.”

In January, Uber came under fire after promoting surge pricing for trips to and from JFK while protests against Trump’s travel ban were happening at the airport. This was a major catalyst for the #deleteuber campaign.

“We’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet — it was not meant to break up any strike,” a spokesperson for Uber said, TechCrunch reported. “We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially last night.”

In January of 2016, an Uber driver denied a ride to a woman in labour, but still charged her $13 for the ride. Uber refunded the woman the $13, but a spokesperson said the company does not comment on individual incidents. They provided the following statement to Fortune:

“Denying service to a passenger in labour is unacceptable: it goes against our code of conduct and the standard of service our riders rely on,” an Uber spokesperson told Fortune. “We extend our deepest apologies to both riders and have taken action to respond to this complaint. We are glad that the rider’s next driver was professional and courteous.”

In August of 2015, Uber apologised after one of its drivers sexually assaulted a rider in Dallas, Texas. The company did not run a background check on the driver.

In December of 2014, Uber apologised after the ride-sharing service activated surge pricing in Sydney as riders tried to safely leave the city while a gunman held people hostage at a cafe in the area.

“Our priority was to help get as many people out of the CBD safely in the midst of a fast-moving event,” General Manager of Uber Australia, David Rohrsheim, wrote in the statement, Mashable reported. “The decisions we made were based only on helping to achieve this but we communicated this poorly, leading to a lot of misunderstanding about our motivations.”

That same month, Uber apologised after one of its drivers in India was accused of raping a rider.

“We are sorry and deeply saddened by what happened over the weekend in New Delhi,” the company said in a blog post, VentureBeat reported. “Our hearts go out to the victim of this horrible crime. We have been and will continue to do everything in our power to assist the authorities to help bring the perpetrator to justice.”

In November of 2014, Kalanick fired off a tweetstorm after then-SVP of the company Emil Michael was accused of suggesting that it was acceptable to pay big money to get back at journalists critical of the company. Kalanick apologised to PandoDaily founder Sarah Lacy, who Michael specifically targeted in what he thought was an off-the-record discussion.

In January of 2014, Uber apologised after it was revealed that its New York team was creating Gett accounts in order to sabotage the rival ride-sharing service.

“The sales tactics were too aggressive and we apologise for our outreach approach to these drivers,” Uber wrote in a blog post, Skift reported. “But to be clear there was no time spent by the providers, as the requests were cancelled immediately and Uber did pay cancellation fees for these requests. We have messaged city teams to curtail activities that seek lead generation in this manner.”