Uber is partnering with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and — as the slogan goes — they will pick you up! By "they" I mean the poor schmucks who sign up to pay around $US1000 ($1369) a month to work for Uber.
The pilot program, which launched in Denver, gives people access to a discounted rental car at $US210 ($287) a week, plus taxes and fees. Uber is spinning this as a progressive, think-of-the-poor-people effort to give people who can't afford cars "all-inclusive" access to a vehicle. Yet this access comes with all sorts of strings attached that make the program a terrible job opportunity — but a great money-making grab for Uber and Enterprise.
In addition to the base payments, drivers will have to pay a $US500 ($684) refundable deposit and a $US40 ($55) sign-up fee. If they go over 4506km a month (145km a day) there's also an additional $US0.25 per mile fee tacked on (approximately $0.15 per 1km).
Someone new and bad at being an Uber driver, or working on a slow week, can end up owing Enterprise hundreds of dollars.
The weekly fee includes "vehicle coverage" along with plenty of caveats:
Enterprise, subject to your compliance with the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, provides damage protection for the rental vehicle above $1,000 for each accident that occurs while the Uber app is off, as well as for each accident during times when the app is on but there has not yet been a match with a rider. Enterprise also provides statutory minimum financial responsibility for third-party liability while the Uber app is off. Keep in mind that when the Uber app is off, these protections apply only if the vehicle is not being used for hire with any other service.
Keeping in mind that typical, standard auto insurance is not always necessarily adequate for driving strangers around all day, the costs of joining this program are likely even higher. An Uber spokesperson doesn't see it that way. "Insurance and maintenance is included in the price." the spokesperson told Gizmodo. "The driver does not need to obtain any additional insurance."
This isn't the first time Uber has teamed up with third parties for other programs to get people without cars behind the wheel and into its driver pool. Last year, it partnered with companies like General Motors and Santander Consumer USA to provide prospective drivers with auto loans. That program stumbled after both of those partners came under US federal investigation for handing out subprime loans.
The Enterprise program isn't quite as predatory as the subprime loans, but it is designed to make financial sense for Uber, not for drivers. Just like inexperienced and gullible bands join "pay to play" Battle of the Bands shows for the exposure, someone using this "pay to work" program would be desperate.
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