Another scandal hits Uber – but will it affect public perceptions in the long run?
August 1st, 2022, Stephan Shakespeare

Another scandal hits Uber – but will it affect public perceptions in the long run?

On the tenth of July, The Guardian published a leak of more than 120,000 documents accusing the ride-hailing app Uber of lobbying governments, “duping police”, and breaking the law. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has admitted that the company made “mistakes and missteps” between 2013 and 2017, and has asked the public to “judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years, and what we will do in the years to come.”

Nevertheless, a little over a week since the Uber files were published, data from YouGov BrandIndex does show a strong public reaction to the controversy. Buzz scores, a measure of whether consumers have heard anything positive or negative about a brand recently, plunged from -0.7 to -11.7 (-11) between 10 – 17 July. It’s a story that has received a lot of attention in platforms such as the BBC and the Daily Mail, and consequently Impression scores (which measure overall sentiment towards a brand) has declined from 2.5 to -4.6 (-7.1). Perceptions of the brand’s Quality fell from 2.7 to -2.6 (-5.3), and metrics tracking value for money fell from -0.5 to -6.7 (-7.2).


With Recommendation scores tumbling from 5.5. to 0.4 (-5.1), and with Reputation scores (which measure whether people would be proud or embarrassed to work for a brand) seeing a similar 5.3-point drop (from -8.9 to -14.2), brand perceptions for Uber are certainly in a worse place than they were before.

But has it materially affected willingness to ride with Uber? Purchase Intent – which asks consumers to pick the brand they’re most likely to use in a given industry – saw a mild improvement, rising from 5.4 to 6.4 (+1). Consideration scores inched downwards from 18.1 to 15.8 (-2.3) but remained firmly positive; customer satisfaction, which went from 10.0 to 9.8, barely moved (-0.2).

It may be that the story has not had enough time to fully unfold; it may be that, following the scandals of yesteryear, a degree of controversy is “priced-in” when customers use Uber. Regardless, however much the public are paying attention to the story, it has not dented their desire to use the service – yet.