Uber has moved to “discourage” drivers from earning extra income by placing ads inside their cars.
The move comes after an unofficial in-car advertising service for rideshare and on-demand drivers launched in the US earlier this month. Viewswagen asks drivers to download two apps which sync together: One of their smartphones, and another for a tablet, which can be positioned in the back of their car for passengers to view and play with.
Viewswagen estimated drivers for services like Uber and Lyft could earn about $US3 more per hour if they signed up to the service. But Uber is telling drivers it does not want them to sign up.
In one email conversation between an Uber driver and Uber support staff, posted in a Facebook group for Uber drivers, the Uber staff member suggested cars using such services would be deactivated.
Here’s the post:
In response to questions from Business Insider about whether it would indeed deactivate cars using Viewswagen from its network, and also whether such language could imply Uber was acting as an employer addressing employees, rather than a company addressing independent contractors (Uber is currently facing lawsuits on behalf of drivers who contend they are employees — not independent contractors — and therefore entitled to reimbursement for expenses), Uber provided this statement:
“It is Uber’s goal to make the rider experience as smooth and comfortable as possible. We don’t believe that in-ride advertising enhances the ride experience, and we discourage driver partners from working with third party in-ride advertisers such as Viewswagen. Also, it’s important to note that Uber is not affiliated with any in-ride advertising company in any way, and we are not providing information about riders or drivers. That said, this Uber representative was mistaken, and these actions haven’t resulted in driver partner deactivation.”
James Bellefeuille, Viewswagen’s co-founder, told Business Insider the start-up is “happy” Uber has commented and “addressed the ambiguity” around Uber drivers partnering with Viewswagen. Uber had previously not responded to a request for comment from Business Insider for an article on Viewswagen’s launch last month.
Bellefeuille added: “Viewswagen shares the goal to make a passenger’s trip as comfortable as possible, however we are a startup built to make driver’s live better. So we balance these two missions by using our TripIntent technology to help display relevant content to passenger in addition to advertising. We believe that passengers wont mind the ads, as long as they know drivers are getting paid a living wage from multiple sources. Secondly, we believe that passengers wont view the ads as intrusive if they are relevant to that person’s trip. Have you ever tried to find a coupon or deal when about to make a purchase? We know we have. Viewswagen makes that easy for passengers.”
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