The New York Times Ethicist had another gem on ethics. A family called for an Uber and, Surprise! a driver who did not seem to be acquainted with English or the area, showed up as their means of transportation. The drive was struggling with GPS, incorrectly headed to the Holland Tunnel, and the family instructed the driver to pull over illegally. The family wanted out before they headed to New Jersey and wasted time. The police arrived, poised to issue a ticket. The police backed off, but the family wanted to know if they were obligated to pay for the ticket. The Ethicist advised that the driver made the mistake on the GPS, ergo, driver pays.Lip service to “you cowed him into it … you can afford to pay better than an Uber driver….” The main concern of the Ethicist was to make sure the driver got a bad review.
Once again, a key point goes unaddressed. With Uber. Lyft, and any other entrepreneurial ride services, there is assumption of risk. These are not experienced drivers. In too many cases, whatever driver screening occurs has proven to be flawed. The drug testing, who knows? In short, you get what you pay for. If you want a driver who knows the ropes and GPS, hail a cab. Uber is an adventure at best and, at its worst, well, you have seen the headlines. Disruptive business models often disrupt lives, including those of their customers. There are costs associated with transportation. You can reduce screening and reduce costs. You assume that risk. Oh, and a take a gander at the Bay Area and the congestion that has resulted from all those Uber cars on the roads. We are all subsidizing that with our time. And we are not as successful in talking the police out of tickets for illegal turns so that we do not have to sit in traffic.