Uber drivers to turn off app to get company's attention

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of Uber drivers with a list of grievances planned an act of protest hoping to get the company's attention.

Michelle Williams organized the event. She printed 1,600 flyers and spread more online asking drivers to turn off their apps and stop accepting riders at 3 p.m. Monday in an effort to get the company to discuss their concerns.

"The backbone of Uber is the drivers, and you can't stand without a backbone," Williams said.

April Brown has been an Uber driver for two years. She said the company is not treating drivers fairly.

"Uber is not very transparent. They used to be," she said.

Brown said Uber lowered rates last year in a move the company initially said was temporary but has not rolled back.

Rising costs and lower profits were common themes several drivers shared with ABC13.

"I want Uber to see us as people. More how it used to be," Brown said.

Williams said she's tried speaking to company representatives directly but she didn't get much of a response. That's why she planned the event Monday and why she's planning more protests in the future.

"Our plan is to continue to do this until we get some results from Uber," she said.

ABC13 checked the app between 2:40 and 3 p.m. and the price for a ride from Rice Village to George Bush Intercontinental Airport did jump about .90 cents in that time. However, there's no way to tell for certain if it was directly due of the protest.

The flyers list several problems, which Michelle said she hopes the company will at least discuss. The items include increasing rates, allowing drivers to contest a poor rating from a rider, allowing drivers to keep cancellation fees and surge fees, among other issues.

These drivers acknowledge their plan would likely mean riders paying more, but they don't believe it's too much to ask.

"I'm sure (riders) don't want me working all day long with everything I need to pay for, making practically nothing," Brown said.

ABC13 requested comment from Uber about the act of protest but representatives did not issue a statement regarding the drivers' actions.

Read the protesters full list of demands below:

1. Increase our rates!

Uber X rates should increase from .87 per mile/.11 per minute to $1.25 mile/.25 per minute
Uber XL rates should increase to $2.00 per mile/.30 per minute
Uber Select rates should increase to $2.75 per mile/.45 per minute
Uber Black rates should increase to $5.00 per mile/.85 per minute
Uber SUV rates should increase to 6.95 per mile/$1.00 per minute

2. Drivers should keep ALL surge fees. Uber is raking back their own money when they collect fees from surge prices. Uber should only collect fees as a 0% surge ride over.

3. Hold ridrers truly accountable for the damages they make to our cars and hold accountable for the way they treat us AND rate us.

4. Drivers should keep the whole $5.00 cancellation fee. It is OUR time that has been wasted not Ubers.

5. Raise minimum fare from $5.00 to 8.00 No more 1.33 and 2.36 rides!

6. Reduce Ubers fee from 28% to a fair 15%

7. STOP OVERSATURATING HOUSTON WITH DRIVERS! Reward long term, loyal drivers.

8. Inform drivers/riders of the long trip return fees and venue parking fees. That info is hidden in the RIDER APP its not in the driver app!

Stand strong! Our future depends on it! We will not budge until each requests are met.

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