An Uber or Lyft driver canceling on your ride can be a frustrating experience. You could be waiting several minutes for the driver to pull up – your phone battery draining fast all the while – when the driver cancels on you and you have to arrange another ride, sometimes waiting another several minutes and hoping that driver doesn’t do the same.
And while that feeling may be universally irritating, a new study finds people with “African American-sounding names” are much more likely to experience it.
The study, conducted in Seattle and Boston, found riders with black-sounding names were more than twice as likely to have a driver cancel on them than people with white-sounding names. Uber drivers can see their riders’ names but not pictures. That rate increased in areas that didn’t have a large amount of Uber or Lyft drivers on the road.
“Male passengers requesting a ride in low-density areas were more than three times as likely to have their trip canceled when they used a African American-sounding name than when they used a white-sounding name,” researchers wrote.
Additionally, the same study found that women were taken on longer rides and therefore overcharged compared to men.
“Female riders reported ‘chatty’ drivers who drove extremely long routes, on some occasions, even driving through the same intersection multiple times,” the authors wrote. “As a result, the additional travel that female riders are exposed to appears to be a combination of profiteering and flirting to a captive audience.”
Stephen Zoepf, one of the authors, told Jalopnik he believes that issue was mostly due to “a few bad actors.”
In a statement to Bloomberg, Uber and Lyft spokespersons said discrimination has no place in their services and they are proud of helping underserved communities. The Uber spokeswoman called the study “helpful in thinking about how we can do even more.”