Uber drivers in Qatar plan strike to protest new fare policies

Joakim Formo/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Updated with comment from Uber

Asserting that they “are not slaves,” hundreds of Uber drivers in Qatar plan to go on strike from today to protest changes in fare policies.

Drivers involved said they will shut off the app en masse. This will increase prices for customers as demand for their services outpaces supply.

In a statement, they told Doha News:

“We drivers are not at all happy working with Uber, as it is very difficult to manage our expenses with low fare & high cost of living. Every month, fuel prices (are) going up and it (is) directly affecting our daily expenditure budget.”

This is the second time in less than a year that Uber drivers have gone on strike to protest their working conditions.

Upfront fares

This week, drivers said that several new changes Uber has made in recent months are cutting into their earnings.

In November for example, Uber rolled out a service that slashed prices by up to 25 percent for pickups in smaller, older cars.

At the time, drivers working under UberGo complained that they needed to make more trips to earn the same money they were making before.

Supplied

Uber strike flier

And late last month, the company introduced a new pricing policy called “upfront fares.”

The service shows customers who enter their destination in the Uber app an estimated trip fare before they even request a ride.

This helps clients budget better and saves them from “surprises or complicated math,” Uber states on its website.

Uber Qatar

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It added that the fare would only change if drivers are kept waiting during pickup.

But drivers complained to Doha News that the upfront fares don’t take into account heavy traffic or any stops the customer asks them to make en route to their final destination.

Dishonest customers

In response to competitor Careem, Uber also now accepts cash payments, instead of just payment via credit card through its app.

But drivers said some customers take advantage of this by running away after the ride, or claiming to ask to get money from an ATM and then never coming back.

Lesley Walker

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“If we make complaint, Uber will not do anything but at the same time they deduct 25 percent commission from our account for this unpaid trip also,” the drivers said.

They added, “Careem, the other online taxi provider, they always give money to us for unpaid rides.”

In a statement to Doha News, an Uber spokesperson said:

“Uber is committed to dialogue with partner drivers and our priority is to always improve their experience.”

He added, “Thousands of partners driving with Uber in Doha are satisfied and can rely on a dedicated partner support center located in the city with experts committed to answer their questions, share advice to improve their profitability and support any concern or problem they might encounter.”

Have you had a harder time catching a cab today? Thoughts?

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