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Does Uber deserve this backlash? It does.



After the recent Uber incident, where a female passenger was allegedly raped by an Uber taxi driver, services offered by Uber have been banned in Delhi and Hyderabad and is likely to be banned in the 9 other cities in India that it currently operates.

Even though Uber promptly responded by providing all the information about the accused driver, including his photo, address, bank account details, etc, to the police, they have been at the wrong end of the stick ever since the incident.

A lot of us understand that there is really not much else Uber could have done while recruiting drivers and training them. The remarks floating around the media accusing Uber of failing to perform a thorough background check on the driver is laughable, as what they have done is all within the ambit of Indian law, rules and regulations.

But therein lies the problem.

If you're a nonentity for the mass media, if you are not a brand that is recognised world over (or by a sizable population), you can get away with just doing everything within the law. Because nobody cares about you, nobody looks up to you, nobody (at least no stranger) trusts you (more than she trusts any stranger).

But the moment you surpass the nonentity stage and are a recognized brand, it is no longer enough to just stay within the ambit of law. That might prevent you from legal liability when your actions lead to unexpected consequences, but it will definitely not protect you against bad press. And bad press can be a killer, driving away both investors and customers. And the bigger you are as a brand, the more intense the bad press in such a scenario. And this is exactly where Uber finds itself today.

This is not just in the case of companies. It is the reason why a politician's career might crumble when his extra-marital affairs are made public or a prominent footballer is found coming out of a strip club. Being a brand that a lot of people recognise and aspire to emulate comes with its set of responsibilities.

This serves as a lesson to everyone trying to build a company that as you grow bigger, you ought to start doing things better than those around you, as the standards grow higher for you.

Uber deserves this backlash and it is probably right to treat this case as special and not just another driver-passenger incident (of which there have been many) simply because of its $40 billion valuation and the global recognition it has.

Then again, I don't expect the ban to last long as the world needs more such brands to look up to and emulate and learn from.

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2 comments:

  1. I think I missed the part which explains why it deserves the backlash. Because it is a big brand?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, simply because it is a big brand. They need to live up to higher standards.

    ReplyDelete

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