Uber Responds To Claims Of Rape & Sexual Assault In Customer Service Reports

Photo: Courtesy of Uber.
Earlier this week, BuzzFeed News published several years' worth of leaked internal data from Uber's customer service tickets, revealing that the term "sexual assault" was linked to a shocking 6,160 tickets and "rape" to 5,827 tickets between December 2012 and August 2015. Within hours, the ride-sharing giant responded to the claims with a letter, and stated that the leaked numbers were "significantly overstated."

According to Uber, fewer than 170 of the tickets containing the words "sexual assault" are actual claims of sexual assault related to an Uber ride. And Uber explained to BuzzFeed that the high search counts for both "rape" and "sexual assault" were partially due to the words appearing anywhere in the tickets, including within names, email addresses, and other words (e.g. Don Draper) and within other contexts, and not necessarily as specific incident claims.

The company also claims that, of the 5,827 tickets containing the word "rape," only five "meet Uber’s standard of an actual incident related to a trip," reports BuzzFeed. (Though it's worth noting that BuzzFeed also points out that nine of these tickets contain the word "rape" in their subject lines.) Uber didn't define the standards by which it judges incidents of sexual assault or rape.

While it's unclear what exactly these numbers mean, instances of sexual assault have been attached to Uber for years now, with customers accusing drivers of rape and sexual assault in the U.S. and worldwide. Uber has removed drivers charged with such offenses from its service, but these incidents have sadly continued — just last week, a Brooklyn woman reported that her Uber driver exposed himself and sexually assaulted her.

As Uber states in its letter: "No means of transportation is 100% safe today."

Although it was mainly written in response to BuzzFeed News' report, Uber's letter also acknowledges the potential flaws in its business model: "Uber is a relatively young company, and we’re the first to admit that we haven’t always gotten things right... We are working hard to ensure passengers everywhere can get a safe, reliable ride, as well as to provide great customer service when things go wrong."

We've reached out to Uber for additional comment, and we'll update this story when we hear back.

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