York cycle courier set to lose his job – for shaving off his beard

Now you see him… now you still see him! Cristian Santabarbara with and without beard
20 Nov 2020 @ 5.14 pm
| News

UPDATE: Cristian has had his account reinstated. See the full story here.

A York man who chose to shave off his beard before a job interview fears the decision may have cost him his livelihood.

Cristian Santabarbara is a cycle courier with Uber Eats.

On Wednesday (18 November) the company asked him to send a self-image for real-time verification of his Uber Eats account.

He took a selfie – the image on the right in the picture at the top – but it was flagged by the computer and verification failed.

Why? Because it didn’t ‘match’ his original, bearded profile picture (on the left above).

He had decided to go clean shaven in anticipation of getting a job interview.

The software then started an automatic termination of Cristian’s account. That’s because it assumed he was letting someone else use his account to carry out his deliveries, which is against the rules.

Cristian has tried to contact Uber Eats to explain what has happened, but keeps getting caught up in the automatic messages system – which simply tells him to check the FAQs.

‘Absence of humanity’

The Uber Eats app on a smartphone. Photograph: Uber

“They are simply pasting the same robotic text responses. I’m left on my own in the dark waiting for my account to be stripped from me. It’s barbaric,” Cristian told YorkMix.

“They don’t account for their system making a mistake, so there is absolutely no accommodation for when they happen.”

He said the fact that both the pictures were him was “blatantly obvious – but due to the lack of process, lack of regulation and absence of humanity, riders like me get terminated daily.”

Uber Eats is his main source of income. After delivering food across York via the company full-time for two years, he has a 96% satisfaction rating.

But now a computer algorithm is set to strip him of his livelihood.

He has been told his account will be terminated today (Friday).

“I’m trying to get through to a human being via in the in-app support but there is nothing human about the entire process,” he said.

As chair of the York branch of the IWGB union, Cristian is urging everyone to write to their MP urging them to back justice for app-based couriers like him.

An Uber spokeswoman said: “Uber takes the decision to suspend or end a partnership with any courier very seriously.

“We have robust processes in place to help ensure that we are taking a proportionate approach, and couriers are able to contact us via the help section of the app if they have any concerns.”