Uber’s brand has taken another hit as Transport for London (TfL) revoked its private hire operator licence in London and slammed the company for not being “fit and proper” and lacking “corporate responsibility”.
In a damning decision, TfL says Uber rejected the application because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of responsibility” in relation to issues including reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates, and how it carries out background checks on drivers.
TfL says it is also concerned by Uber’s Greyball software, which can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to its app and undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, says he fully supports the decision and that while he wants London to be “at the forefront of innovation and new technology” he expects all companies to “play by the rules and adhere to high standards we expect”.
“Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security,” he adds.
Uber is appealing the decision and can continue to operate until it the appeals process has been exhausted. Its current licence expires on 30 September.
“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” says Uber in a statement. “To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”
The decision marks another twist in Uber’s story over the past few months. It has already been forced to quit several countries including Hungary and Denmark and faced regulatory battles in a number of countries globally .
It has also been the subject of a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying that culminated in its founder, Travis Kalanick, being forced to quit.
The company has hired former Apple marketer Bozoma St John in an attempt to repair its troubled image, which has taken a significant knock over the past year.
According to YouGov BrandIndex, consumer perceptions of the Uber brand across a range of metrics including quality, reputation and value have fallen by a statistically significant 1.3 points over the past year to a score of -4.7. That puts it second last in a list of transport brands, above just Southern Trains.
Yet despite the scandals, consideration and purchase intent are both on the rise. Over the past year, consideration is up by a statistically significant 2.8 points to 12.5, while purchase intent rose 1.8 points to 3.7. In London, those scores are even higher with consideration standing at 27.4 and purchase intent up 3.1 points to 6.6.