Local Uber drivers say they’re frustrated and have been unable to work due to background check delays with the company. Uber says those delays have been caused by COVID-19’s impact on local courts.
Ross Tubbs, a valley Uber driver, has been driving with the company for about a year. When he started the job in January of 2020, he said the company’s mandatory background check process was quick and easy.
He continued to drive during the pandemic taking extra precautions to keep passengers safe.
“I don’t want anybody getting sick. I spray the seats...and all the seatbelts and everything with Lysol,” said Tubbs.
Come this year, it was time for another annual background check. But this time, Tubbs says he experienced a major delay in the process.
“All of a sudden I’m noticing...I’m not getting rides,” he said.
Tubbs says one day in January, he could no longer pick up passengers. He contacted Uber support who said his background check was still ‘pending’ due to COVID-related court closures.
“I logged out and couldn’t get back on,” he said.
But now, nearly two months have gone by. He says the delay has forced him to apply for unemployment. “I didn’t want to be on unemployment. I don’t like sitting at home...I’d rather be out doing what I do,” he said.
He says he calls Uber support weekly, showing News Channel 3 dozens of messages asking when the problem might resolve. He says he often receives a similar reply: “They said in 3-5 days our specialized team should reach out to you. Never heard anything back.”
And in the Uber world, Tubbs is not alone.
“They took me offline they deactivated me because of a background check,” said Joseph Guglielmo, another valley Uber Driver.
“I couldn’t make any money...I was off...it was pretty hard,” echoed Paul Harrison, another driver with the company.
Uber has a notice on their website that says in part “Some reports and activations may be delayed or not be able to be completed by our background check provider until courthouses are able to resume normal business.”
However, drivers say their background checks for Lyft, another rideshare company, were not delayed. Both companies use the same background check company called Checkr.
“My Lyft background check was done in one day,” said Tubbs.
The drivers added that working for Lyft is typically not as profitable for them here in the valley, as more passengers use Uber locally.
They’re now asking Uber for answers and improved communication with their drivers eager to get back to work.
“All I’m asking for is please...get me back online and get me rolling,” said Tubbs.
News Channel 3’s Madison Weil reached out to Uber directly. While they didn’t respond to requests about these specific local drivers, the company said as cities continue to open up, their processing times should improve.