Uber apologizes for “confusion” at JFK throughout immigration protest

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Uber has apologized right now for selling surge pricing to and from JFK throughout yesterday’s protest and taxi strike.

After the enactment of an government order barring refugees and visa holders from seven nations from getting into the U.S., protests gathered at JFK Worldwide and the NY Taxi Staff Alliance referred to as for a cease on pickups from the airport. Uber stated that riders may go to and from JFK with out surge pricing, prompting main public backlash that the corporate was profiting from the state of affairs. The entire fiasco led to a trending #deleteuber tag, calling on customers to delete the app and change to options like Lyft.

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

Uber was one of many first to come back out publicly with a direct and measurable strategy to handle the ban, however the #deleteuber motion is a reminder of how rapidly good will might be undone with a communications misfire — particularly for the aggressively-expanding Uber. As an alternative of being perceived as one thing that will help riders within the midst of the protest, it was rapidly labeled as an try and bust the strike. Whereas it’s not clear how giant the motion has develop into, it’s attracted plenty of consideration on Twitter and different platforms.

It’s one other public stumble for Uber, which has regularly confronted optics points as its grown into a virtually $100 billion firm. CEO Travis Kalanick was appointed to President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Coverage Discussion board in December final yr (together with Elon Musk), and as stress mounts on tech firms to take a stance on Trump’s new insurance policies Kalanick and Uber have been within the public’s crosshairs.

Hundreds descended upon JFK final night time in protest of the ban, which at one level led to New York governor Andrew Cuomo reversing a choice and permitting the JFK AirTran to proceed to function. The NY Taxi Staff Alliance referred to as for drivers to not decide up passengers from JFK from 6pm to 7pm on Saturday night time, which additionally referred to as on Uber drivers to do the identical. The tweet from Uber went out at 7:36pm, which means it had been initiated after the time cited.

Whereas the remark was seemingly simply an FYI for potential passengers attempting to get to and from the airport, for Uber it was one other misstep in its try and construct up good will. Uber stated right now it might create $three million protection fund to assist cowl authorized, immigration and translation prices for drivers affected by the immigration ban, with Kalanick additional clarifying his stance on the ban and calling it “wrong and unjust.”

Uber was fast to reply to the manager order, with Kalanick saying he would handle it in President Trump’s first enterprise advisory group assembly. Kalanick additionally stated in a memo to firm that it might be figuring out drivers affected by the ban and compensate them professional bono in the course of the subsequent three months to deal with the potential fallout from the ban. Uber’s ongoing competitor Lyft additionally got here out strongly towards the ban, and stated it might donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the following 4 years.

All through Saturday, executives and distinguished members within the tech business sounded off on the immigration ban — both publicly or via inside communications that turned public. It’s been a tough state of affairs as the most important tech firms on this planet discover themselves having to search out methods to navigate the brand new administration regardless of a essential eye on every firm’s particular stance on numerous points, and Uber particularly has already confronted loads of optics points even previous to the brand new administration.

Featured Picture: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Recordsdata

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Désiré LeSage

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