Anti-Uber sentiment has swept the public in the wake of the infamous “dinner party” controversy, in which a company executive threatened to dig up dirt to smear a female tech journalist.
Public outrage has spurred numerous calls to action, trying to convince people to delete the app. There’s just one problem with that: Doing so only deletes the data on your phone. As with other online services, your account and history records remain ensconced on the company’s servers.
That suffices if all you want to do is discontinue your patronage. With no app on your phone, there’s no icon to tempt you when you next need a ride. But if you’re concerned about your privacy and want to fully delete your account, you’ve got more work to do.
Beware: It’s not exactly straightforward.
How To Really, Fully Delete Your Uber Account
You can’t remove your account using the mobile app (before you ditch it, that is). There’s also no online interface for it either: A search on Uber’s support page yielded no results. The only bits of information that come close are pages on deleting employees’ accounts for business users and updating a profile, neither of which cover account deletion for personal users.
A little more digging turned up a Reddit thread that outlines the steps to scrap your account. Judging by this, it’s not difficult, but it’s not obvious either: You have to go to the company’s support request page online, file a support ticket asking for a manual deletion and wait for a representative to get back to you.
WikiHow corroborates this process. According to the crowd-sourced help site, you want to choose a good reason for the removal. In some cases, depending on what your reasoning is, the response times can vary quite a bit. The site advises using the following form, for the best chance at a speedy resolution:
My name is <your name here>. My email is <your email here>. My phone number is <your number here>. I would like to have my Uber account deleted and my payment information disposed of at the earliest possible convenience. I was previously using a company credit card to pay for the service, but I’ve recently changed jobs.
Thank you for your time,
<Your Name Here>
Of course, since it’s a manual deletion, you can only trust that the rep and the company will do as requested. There may still be a chance that your transaction records and location history remain available to Uber and its almighty “God View” tool anyway. But if you’re anxious to extract yourself from the service, at least you know you’ve done everything possible.
Uber Doesn’t Want You To Go, But Makes It Tough To Stay
Of course, Uber doesn’t want you to leave. BuzzFeed, which has become the official town crier for bad Uber behavior after breaking the controversy, reports that the company’s community managers have their shields up in the face of a potential mass defection.
The site described the experience of one San Francisco–based customer who, after citing the company’s “disturbing” practices, tried to have his account deleted. What he got in response was staunchly defensive behavior from an Uber rep who tried to talk him out of it. Others have noted similar experiences, including Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti.
Looks like Uber’s taking a page from Comcast’s customer service handbook.
But as much as the company wants you to stick around, it doesn’t make it easy. The objectionable behavior apparently runs amuck from top to bottom. For instance: Headlines Wednesday morning told the tale of Alexandra Craigle, a cancer patient who was verbally abused by an Uber driver. The reason: She had the audacity to order, then immediately cancel her ride. According to Craigle’s tweets, the driver called her “an animal” and told her she deserved what she got.
Wow, @Uber_NYC is getting the meanest of mean emails. Left something up at 1st day of RADIATION, had to cancel ride within 1 min of req…
— Alexandra Craigle (@alexcraigle) November 10, 2014
.@Uber_NYC driver calls 3x, leave threatening vmail, tell me I'm lying about cancer treatment, that I deserve it for what "an animal I am"
— Alexandra Craigle (@alexcraigle) November 11, 2014
@xeni when driver texts me saying I deserved my cancer after canceling a trip 1 minute after radiation… I drew the line.
— Alexandra Craigle (@alexcraigle) November 18, 2014
At least there’s one Uber staffer who knows how to act appropriately.
— Andrew Salzberg (@andrewsalzberg) November 11, 2014
But forget Uber kittens, PR damage-control playbooks or customer service manuals. If Uber wants to transform its image and retain customers, it should think about investing some of its vast funds into Munro Leaf’s “How To Behave And Why” instead.
Lead photo (cropped) by Jason Newport