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Uber says it's trying to improve relations with angry drivers


Person checking UBER car
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

Uber is feeling the heat from angry drivers.

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday that focused mostly on the company's diversity efforts and its search for a chief operating officer, Rachel Holt, a regional general manager, said the company is addressing a rising level of discontent among drivers.

Declining fares that benefit riders have long made it difficult for drivers to make money. Holt said that Uber is fixing a bug that reduces pay to drivers when a passenger cancels a ride mid-route and is tweaking its rating system so that drivers aren't unfairly suspended.

"We need to give drivers a say in fare adjustments," Holt said. They should be "fully compensated for their time."

Uber, the $68 billion ride-hailing service, has been a house of controversy this year, beset my sexual harassment claims, rapid turnover among executives and CEO Travis Kalanick's previous ties to President Donald Trump's economic advisory council. Last month, Bloomberg published a video of Kalanick arguing with a driver, who was complaining that the precipitous drop in fares was causing him to lose money.

Kalanick is heard telling the driver that some people, "blame everything in their life on somebody else." He apologized to his staff after the video surfaced and said in a memo that "this is the first time I've been willing to admit that I need leadership help."

Arianna Huffington, the columnist, entrepreneur and Uber board member, was on the conference call. She said that she's one of the people currently interviewing candidates to be the company's COO.

As for making drivers happy, Holt said Uber is updating a number of policies that are "unintentionally stacked against" them. She said when a passenger complains that the driver didn't look like the picture on the app, the company is using technology to validate the authenticity of the driver, which should lead to less time off the road.

"We are committed to making progress on core driver issues this year," she said.

See also: Here's everything that's gone wrong at Uber over the last month