Uber just tried to bury the hatchet with angry drivers - but it dug a deeper hole instead

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Uber protesters

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Uber hasn't had the best relationship with its drivers, and its latest effort to try to appease some of their concerns went badly awry.

On Thursday, Uber's president of ridesharing, Jeff Jones, held a Q&A on Facebook to answer driver questions. By 10 a.m., there was already a backlog of more than 100 questions ready to be answered, ranging from concerns over Uber taking increasingly larger shares of the fares passengers pay to safety concerns about riders in rural places.

This was Uber's chance to show how much it's finally addressing the needs of its drivers. Yet, to say it didn't go well was an understatement.

Instead of coming off as a company that was listening to its drivers, Uber's president simply parroted back its own help center articles and blog posts, angering drivers in the process.

Uber Q&A

Jeff Jones/Facebook

Uber's president of ridesharing, Jeff Jones, failed to address driver concerns as he promised. Instead, he answered generally.

Jones evaded answering the hundreds of other individual and pointed questions by responding with corporate platitudes to general themes like UberPool and driver ratings.

For example, when it came to discussing rider behavior, he pointed to the recently updated community guidelines rather than addressing genuine ideas from drivers in the comments about sending negative feedback to riders when they're rated below three stars by drivers. Instead, Jones boilerplate response was followed by a link to Uber's legal page of terms and policies.

Jones only responded individually to 12 questions during the Q&A, with four of them being questions about whether the Q&A had started. After 30 minutes, he called it quits saying the "time had flown by" despite earlier promising to spend a full hour answering questions.

It's a stark contrast to other CEOs, like Airbnb's Brian Chesky, for example, who put a call out for ideas for Airbnb on Christmas and then responded individually to nearly every one - even the bad ones.

Uber says it's "listening" in that it is reading the comments from drivers and giving them a forum to voice their concerns. But by failing to do the "answer" part that's generally associated with a Q&A, Uber only proved to alienate the drivers it depends on.

"The ONLY thing you made clear to the majority of us is that you don't have ANY productive answers," one driver wrote. "You made it crystal clear (if there was any doubt) that Uber does NOT care about it's drivers."

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