Delhi cab rape: Uber shows us how to make an excuse and ruin an apology

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse,” said Benjamin Franklin. He must be turning in his grave right now with what Uber have done — made an excuse for their failings AND ruined an apology.

The company is at the centre of a storm of controversy, following an incident where a 26-year-old woman in Delhi alleged that she was raped by a the driver of an Uber cab, which allows you to book and pay online for cabs in 51 countries.

The allegations were proven true after a medical examination and the driver was arrested on Sunday.

Uber did put out a statement online saying that their thoughts were with the woman and that they were cooperating with the police — but the tone was hardly apologetic. Instead, it highlighted the actions they took after the incident and made promises to promote safety in transportation.

 Delhi cab rape: Uber shows us how to make an excuse and ruin an apology


But here's what is really displeasing — Uber's statement is buried in their website in a little corner which takes a lot of digging to reach. An incident of this magnitude has been reported by top publications and news channels/websites in India and the West — but the statement from Uber is hidden in such a way that it makes you feel sorry (pun intended) for them.

Firstly, there is no mention of the incident or the statement on their main page. Let's say we excuse that — India may not be their biggest market and putting a statement related to a molestation or a rape case on the home page is not smart business.

You have to scroll down to their search bar for all the cities their service is available in — type in New Delhi and scroll thrice on your mouse to reach three boxes at the end of the page to see this written in the third one from your left — "Statement from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick". Now that's a box which is ridiculously low on their priority list and it doesn't even say anything about the incident. "Statement from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick" could be a statement on anything!

And as for other cities in India? The statement is published in the Ahmedabad and Kolkata pages of the blog. But in the spot where Kalanick's statement was on the Delhi page, the Mumbai blog says, "Mumbai: Watch @MUMBAICITYFC train today! Win a signed football+VIP tickets to tomorrow’s game-use promocode MASTERCLASS!" The Bangalore page says, "Our wonderful friends at @PAYTM have helped put together an FAQ section on any support issues/questions you may have"

But you really shouldn't be surprised about this — Uber is notoriously unsympathetic when it comes to saying sorry or taking responsibility about what happens to people in cabs they book using their app.

A screen grab from the Uber Delhi website.

A screen grab from the Uber Delhi website.

A recent controversy saw their Senior Vice President Emil Michael say that the company would spend “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. "That team could help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine," he said.

This came after a journalist accused Uber of sexism and misogyny. She had also raised questions about safety in an Uber cab, which has come under a lot of scrutiny with their drivers regularly being accused of harassing women — a claim the company would rubbish using excuses like 'the woman was drunk' or 'dressed provocatively'.

Uber may or may not be at fault for the rape of the woman — but it's clear that they need to learn the art of saying sorry, or at least give it a try.

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Updated Date: Dec 08, 2014 20:22:38 IST