[Lisette Voytko]

Topline: A number of Uber users took to social media Tuesday complaining of account deactivations and lost UberCash balances, which the San Francisco-based ride hailing company said was caused by an “operational error” impacting a small percentage of users.

  • Daniel Ruggiero in Charleston, South Carolina, said his account was deactivated late Monday night, and after he reached out for support, Uber requested gift card numbers, even though he did not have an UberCash balance on his account.
  • Meanwhile, Khadijah Pace in Columbus, Ohio, says her mother Doracy Wheeler’s account was deactivated Monday before being restored Tuesday afternoon, and Wheeler also had an UberCash balance of zero⁠—but was likewise asked by Uber for gift card numbers.
  • Marlin, Ruggiero and Pace shared screenshots with Forbes that appear to show that even after they told Uber they did not have gift card numbers, Uber continued to request them.
  • Brett Marlin in San Francisco, California, said that he had an UberCash balance of $1,400, but his account was deactivated Monday for an alleged terms of service violation before being restored⁠—without any communication from Uber⁠—by Tuesday afternoon.
  • All users Forbes spoke with expressed frustration about the lack of communication from Uber, with Pace saying “It’s like [Uber is] not even acknowledging our messages, just sending the gift card thing over and over.”
  • An Uber spokesperson told Forbes that in the last 24 hours, an “operational error” due to an app update has since been rolled back, apologized to impacted users, and that their account access has been restored.

Crucial quote: “I understand mistakes happen, but the communication from Uber has just been embarrassing for a company as big as they are,” said Ruggiero.

Key background: Customer service issues at Uber have been reported multiple times over recent years. In 2015, Quartz reported on the outsourcing of customer service abroad to the Philippines, among other countries, with U.S.-based Uber agents criticizing the quality of work from their overseas counterparts. And in 2016, Buzzfeed News reported that the global expansion of Uber’s customer service team caused internal issues from a lack of training and assistance from the company. In 2019, the Washington Post found that Uber has a special investigative unit of 80 workers in Phoenix, Arizona, that works on the worst customer service issues, like sexual assault. The team’s purpose is to protect Uber first, and then the customer, according to the Post, which Uber denied.

~source