“You Agree that the Entire Risk Arising Out of Your Use of the Service Remains Solely with You”

The title is quoted from the disclaimer of Uber.

Last Saturday, a serious random killing in Kalamazoo, Michigan, committed by Jason Dalton, a 45 years old Uber driver came into our sight. The investigation showed that the driver kept picking up passengers between the shootings. Six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, although none of the victims is the Uber fare, this intentional, coldblooded crime questions Uber’s background check system.

This is not the only horrible accident related with Uber — crimes including kidnapping and assaulting have happened over the world. In 2014, New Delhi Government banned Uber because of a rape incident.

Similarly with the Airbnb liability issues that Zak Stone mentioned in his story Living and dying on Airbnb, Uber like other sharing economy companies, positions itself as an intermediate between passengers and drivers. Here is an extract from Uber’s liability policy:

Uber shall not be liable for indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, punitive, or consequential damages, including lost profits, lost data, personal injury, or property damage related to, in connection with, or otherwise resulting from any use of the services, even if Uber has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

Here is another example about the imbalance between the service and liabilities. EatWith, an Airbnb on dining service, vaguely responds to the users, who have concerns on the safety issues, that “legislations about in-home services to protect guests…We trust our hosts completely with your safety and satisfaction”. However, in its policies, it shows that:

“EatWith has no control over the conduct of any Hosts, Guests or any other User and disclaims all liability in this regard.”

While the sharing economy firms provide convenience to the users and wage-earning opportunities to the assets owners, the companies, generally believed as the managers who should control the qualities of services, claim that they are not responsible for any problems, because they are simply the “third party”: every time the contract of the service is between the user and the provider. They stylishly get themselves out of troubles.

Minimized the responsibilities and maximize profits as long as they don’t break the law are not the right attitude to grow this type of business — more effective policies and rules are needed right away.