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Uber has more work to do winning over drivers

19 Dec 2017

Uber has spent the past six months trying to court its drivers, who aren't always the company's biggest fans.

In June, Uber rolled out 38 new features as a part of a "180 Days of Change" pledge to make improvements for drivers.

That was a week after founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was pushed out following a series of PR crises, including a high-profile sexual harassment investigation and an exodus of executives.

Uber says it has 2 million drivers globally and 750,000 in the United States.

They are the backbone of the company, which is valued at $70 billion. But drivers have grown discontented by some of the company's business practices.

Some drivers said they felt duped by marketing efforts that pushed unattainable potential to make big bucks. (Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly misleading drivers.)

Among the new features introduced since June are a 24/7 hotline for drivers, payment for the time drivers spend waiting for fares, and changes to the app to make it easier for customers to tip.

The promise of the effort was enough to bring some drivers back to Uber. But interviews with more than a dozen Uber drivers over the past week make clear that Uber has more to do.

"Uber is doing things they should have been doing from the start," an Uber driver from Richmond, Virginia, who requested his name be withheld, told CNNMoney.

"The campaign shouldn't have fanfare. It's like when you yell at your kid to clean their room and now they want you to congratulate them [for doing so]. That's not how it works."

The initiative, which ended last week, was led by Rachel Holt, regional general manager of the U.S. and Canada, and Aaron Schildkrout, the head of driver product. (Schildkrout resigned on Wednesday after three years at Uber, saying he needed to "let the wheel of the mind slow to stillness.")

"[The campaign] was the U-turn," Holt told CNNMoney. "We were very clear at the outset that it really was the beginning -- 2018 is going to be about ensuring that we are a true partner with drivers."

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