There's that saying about how a crisis brings our a person's true character, or the real person emerges when pressed, shaken and stirred. That same principle applies to businesses and organizations.
Compounding the horror of the Sydney hostage seizure and killings on Dec. 14-15 was the fact that Uber charged higher "surge" rates during the standoff, although it later backed off and allowed passengers to ride for free in the wake of social media outrage. (Would Uber have done so if this had happened 10 years ago before Facebook and Twitter?) Business Insider article here.
Think about that. A fanatical terrorist invades a downtown business district, takes hostages, issues threats. . . the unknowns are too numerous to comprehend in the heat of such a crisis. In those situations, getting people out of the danger zones is critical.
Now let's back up to the equally horrifying Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013. I remember talking and corresponding with a few well-known Boston-area limo operators that day who offered free rides to anyone needing to get out of the blast/danger zone, or to help public safety agencies with transportation needs. In the days afterward, another limo operator offered free rides to the families of bombing victims as they had to go back and forth among hospitals, relatives' homes -- and funeral homes. LCT article here
It's worth noting the obvious: Legal, licensed limousine operators suspended their drive for profit on fixed rates to help in a major crisis and do the right thing.
But a legally dubious Transportation Network Company at first couldn't restrain its insatiable appetite for surge profits on its flexible prices during a crisis.
However much Uber manages this P.R. fallout or backtracks to make amends, these contrasting first responses should tell us what we really need to know about TNCs vs. true chauffeured transportation. In business, ethics trump everything else.
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