With the inadvertent rise of social media in the recent past, brands have been facing a lot of scrutiny from consumers and competitors. Pretty much anybody who has a social media handle is growing vocal about anything and everything that happens under the public eye. In such a time and place, brands find it difficult to attempt disaster management for any unplanned marketing fiasco.
Uber is the latest brand to face flak over social media for the alleged rape of a 27-year-old woman by the driver of the cab in Delhi last week.
Social media outrage
Many on the web directly blamed the cab service, Uber, for not sticking to safety guidelines, especially after it came out that they had not done the mandatory police verificiation before hiring the accused driver. Facebook and Twitter saw some extreme reactions over the incident. Excerpts:
With such social media outrage, the name of the brand has gone for a toss. Concerns over safety, and legal issues have been brought to the limelight. According to market reports citing the police, Uber has over 4,000 drivers from Delhi registered with the brand, but it had not carried out the verification to ensure that even one met all the parameters needed to provide such a service.
Among the alleged omissions for which the Delhi Police has blamed both the company and the driver responsible is the absence of a public service vehicle badge. A lot of criticism on social media has been picked up on this account.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued the following statement: "What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team's hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.
“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.”
However, Uber’s “terms and conditions,” skirts all possible legal actions against the brand owing to the following clause:
“Uber does not guarantee the suitability, safety or ability of third party providers. It is solely your responsibility to determine if a third party provider will meet your needs and expectations. Uber will not participate in disputes between you and a third party provider. By using the services, you acknowledge that you may be exposed to situations involving third party providers that are potentially unsafe, offensive, harmful to minors, or otherwise objectionable, and that use of third party providers arranged or scheduled using the services is at your own risk and judgment. Uber shall not have any liability arising from or in any way related to your transactions or relationship with third party providers.”
The Delhi government on Monday banned Uber with immediate effect. However, despite the ban, Uber refused to stop operations and was continuing with its app-based taxi booking service. The Delhi government has shifted the blame on to the traffic police to execute the order and ensure the US-based company ceases to operate in the city.
The government had also banned all web-based cab booking services which had not taken any regulatory approval from the transport authorities. The government statement clarified that only Easy Cab, Mega Cab, Meru Cab, Chanson Cab, Yo Cab and Air Cab are licensed with Transport Department for operation 'Radio Taxi' in the NCT of Delhi.