Uber uses all kinds of tricks and scams to beat out Lyft and other competition according to a fascinating story posted Tuesday afternoon on The Verge, but Uber hurried to put out a response of its own, undoubtedly concerned about how underhanded the report makes it look. Tactics like fake Lyft accounts, burner phones and credit cards linked to Uber all sound more like story notes from Breaking Bad than a car-hailing app. No wonder then that according to The Verge, Uber “stalled for time” until it could get up a blog post arguing that nothing it did was questionable and anything that sounded over the line was not true.
“There’s been a lot of discussion – and a lot of misinformation – about Uber’s driver recruitment and the ridesharing industry’s at large,” Uber posted in its blog on the subject. “We’d like to set the record straight and demystify our recruiting efforts, which we call Operation SLOG (Supplying Long-term Operations Growth).”
SLOG, according to Uber, is simply an innocuous and aboveboard way of recruiting drivers and marketing its service to potential riders. According to the information gathered by The Verge however, SLOG is a “previously unreported aspect of the company’s ruthless efforts to undermine its competitors.” There’s not a lot of room for overlap in those descriptions, even with the best (or worst) of intent.
This isn’t the first time the seedy battles between Uber and Lyft have come to light. The companies have been accusing each other of sabotage for a long time now, but no information near this level of detail has come out before. As happened then, Uber claims innocence of any wrongdoing or anything that, while legal, make it look desperate or vicious.
There’s an awful lot of evidence to refute this time though. More than any single blog post could possibly do. Uber doesn’t try to make a point-by-point defense, instead relying on describing its SLOG program in positive terms, without mentioning deliberate ride cancellations or anything like it. We’ve reached out to Uber’s D.C. office for comment and will try to find out if any of the methods described in The Verge occurred in the area. At the very least, this will be something for former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to start working on when he begins his job at Uber.