Uber has blamed a glitch in its system for allowing Uber Eats drivers in Sydney to pick up passengers for rides without signing up and going through the checks required for rideshare drivers.
Earlier this week, Uber Eats drivers posted in Facebook groups that they had noticed they could take “reserved” Uber rideshare rides – that is trips that passengers have booked in advance – through the driver app.
The drivers who reported the glitch had not gone through the additional checks required to be an Uber rideshare driver, such as those governing the age and condition of the vehicle.
Uber Eats drivers in Melbourne, for example, can have cars dating back to 1990, while Uber rideshare drivers must have a car that is less than 15 years old.
One rider in a group posted an image of a 17-minute, $31 trip he had taken with a passenger in the suburbs of Sydney’s south-west. When questioned about the trip, the driver said his car had met the requirements despite him not having signed up to be a rideshare driver.
A spokesperson for Uber Eats said the glitch had been fixed.
“We identified and remedied an issue that had temporarily offered scheduled rideshare trips to a small group of Uber Eats delivery partners in Sydney,” the spokesperson said.
“We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this caused and will take precautions to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Even though the company has indicated thousands of Uber Eats drivers have met the eligibility criteria in the past, the Uber app is supposed to allow Australians to use only one platform at a time – either Uber Eats or rideshare.
Uber Eats has so far weathered the turmoil facing the delivery rider industry in Australia over the past few months. Rival Deliveroo went into administration in November citing tough economic conditions. The company immediately shut down ordering in the app, shocking both riders and customers.
Menulog announced job cuts to its Sydney customer operations team, and Sydney-based grocery delivery company Voly also abruptly shut down.
The industry is likely to face new legislation from the Albanese federal government in 2023. While Uber itself struck a landmark agreement with the Transport Workers’ Union on employment standards in June, the employment minister, Tony Burke, has indicated the government wants to set minimum standards for the industry.