Uber, the leading ride hailing app in the U.S., is facing a backlash among consumers who are increasingly balking at using the service.
That’s according to data compiled for Quartz by YouGov BrandIndex, the market research firm that found 13.9 percent of U.S. consumers said they would consider using Uber the next time they need a ride. That is lower than the high of 18.3 percent that signaled in November it would consider Uber for a ride. The survey polled 4,800 people in the U.S. each weekday to track the public perception of over 1,500 brands. Lyft, the Uber competitor, is seeing an uptick in consideration among U.S. consumers. As of April 5, 9.6 percent of American consumers would consider using Lyft for a ride compared to 5.6 percent in September 2016. The 10-point lead Uber once had on Lyft in purchase consideration has now been cut in half, noted the report.
According to the report, the decline for Uber started in November, not in January when the hashtag #deleteUber started trending or in February when the startup was hit with allegations of sexual harassment by an ex-engineer at Uber. The report speculated that the decline in Uber’s popularity is more likely due to changes it made to the app’s privacy setting back in November. That’s when Uber started getting one-star ratings on the iOS app store with lots of reviewers complaining about the upgraded app’s request to access the phone’s locating tracking services even when people aren’t using the Uber app.
For some time now, Uber has been in defensive mode and earlier this month took steps to fight back against a New York Times article, with one of the more damning passages in the article stating Uber “engaged in an extraordinary behind-the-scenes experiment in behavioral science to manipulate [its drivers] in the service of its corporate growth — an effort whose dimensions became evident in interviews with several dozen current and former Uber officials, drivers and social scientists, as well as a review of behavioral science.”
Additionally, the article pointed to an in-app feature that alerts Uber drivers about potential fares automatically while they’re en route with their current customers. This feature can’t be turned off.