This Week in Rideshare: Masks, Rates, and Gas.

MONDAY 3/14/22

Drivers say the companies won’t explain why they were suspended — or review personal dashcam footage offered by them — unless faced with litigation. “It’s very frustrating,” said Jared Hoffa, the head of development at Chicago-based LegalRideShare LLC, a personal injury firm that represents gig workers. Mr. Hoffa said dozens of drivers have approached his firm over the past year, saying they were targets of false rider complaints that they think stemmed from disagreements over face masks.

Some maskless passengers retaliate by reporting that the driver wasn’t wearing a mask, knowing it would have repercussions for drivers, he said.

TUESDAY 3/15/22

The protest arrives in the face of an unprecedented price surge that drivers say has eaten into their already low earnings. Fueled by the Russian invasion into Ukraine, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in Los Angeles County hit $5.85 Tuesday, up 22% from a month ago and up nearly 50% from a year ago.

“It’s a full-time job for me, but it has become challenging to earn enough money for myself and my family,” he said. “I need a safety net and protection.”

WEDNESDAY 3/16/22

Six Uber drivers Insider spoke with said the new gas surcharge would do very little to offset high prices and conveyed frustration with the company. Drivers have also have expressed anger online.

Casas drives part-time, completing about 40–50 rides per week. For 45 rides with a gas surcharge of 55 cents, he’d make back $24.75. He said it now costs him $240 a week to fill up his Honda Odyssey for work — a $70 increase over just weeks ago — with just more than one-third of the increase getting offset by the surcharge.

THURSDAY 3/17/22

Lyft plans to add a temporary fuel surcharge to fares amid rising fuel prices around the country, the company confirmed to The Verge on Monday. Gas prices have spiked recently in part due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lyft will add $0.55 to each ride, which could be in part an incentive to coax drivers to use its service over Uber. Uber announced its own surcharge last week, but it will be “either $0.45 or $0.55,” depending on a rider’s location. However, the surcharge will not apply in New York City, and in Nevada, the company plans to bring it to drivers “as soon as possible.”

FRIDAY 3/18/22

Instead, he’s been bounced around three different insurance agencies on two different continents. Nwosisi has been told by Uber that it’s not liable in the Netherlands for an accident that happened in Nigeria, while also being offered settlements from Uber’s Dutch lawyer that would barely cover his legal fees, let alone his medical bills and loss of income. He’s been picked apart by doctors and a medical examiner and has had everything from his mental health to his sex life scrutinized.

And along the way, Uber has reminded him time and time again that it doesn’t think of itself as a transportation company at all. As one Uber executive put it in an email, the company merely “provides digital lead generation services.”

“I think that this is inhuman. I think that this is wicked,” Nwosisi said.

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