clock menu more-arrow no yes

Uber's head of global customer support is out after leaked documents revealed shaky internal practices

Tim Collins's departure was announced in a company-wide email on Monday.

Carl Court / Getty

The head of Uber's global customer support operations, Tim Collins, has left the company, multiple sources told Recode.

The former vice president of operations at Amazon was poached by Uber to lead the ride-hail company's customer support operations in January of 2015. Uber announced he was no longer with the company in an email to community operations managers and other internal employees on Monday. Collins will be returning to Amazon, Recode has learned.

Austin Geidt, Uber's former head of global expansion, will be taking Collins's place. Geidt was the fourth employee to be hired at Uber.

The company-wide announcement comes just four months after I reported leaked internal Uber documents that showed upward of 6,000 emails with the subject line "sexual assault" and 5,827 emails with the subject line "rape."

According to Uber, those numbers are vastly overstated and based on an internal analysis there were only five emails "that allege an actual rape occurred" and 170 "with a legitimate claim of sexual assault." The company's trust and safety team did a manual audit of every single ticket in the queue, the company said.

An accompanying investigation also revealed that the company rapidly off-shored its customer support operations to places like the Philippines and India in a matter of months. Just as quickly, approximately 500 of Uber's remote customer support representatives in the U.S. were laid off without warning.

This resulted in a lack of training of new contractors, according to 15 different sources who also attested to a drop-off in quality of support that at times led to serious incidents being mishandled.

In a response to these articles that Collins posted on Uber's official Medium blog, he wrote:

"I joined Uber in January 2015 after 16 years at Amazon. At the time, our customer support was mostly handled by local city teams. That was fine when we were smaller. But as Uber grew — there are now three million trips taken every day with Uber across 69 countries — this approach became increasingly inefficient because the individual city teams could not learn from each other. As a company that operates in many countries, investing in a global customer support network, including in the United States, is common sense — not offshoring."

In Uber's response to the emails with subjects that read rape and sexual assault, which was signed by Collins as well, the company wrote:

"Riders routinely misspell “rate” (as in the fare) as “rape”, or use the word “rape” in another context. For example, “you raped my wallet”; Any email address or rider/driver name (first or last) that starts with an R and has the letters A, P, E consecutively afterwards, such as Susan Raper or Rachel Rapelli*..."

"We thank Tim for his leadership in building out our global support teams and infrastructure," Uber spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker told Recode.

Update: This post has been updated to include context on Uber's analysis of the documents.

Read this next: Uber's Policy Boss Is Cutting Team to Make Way for Googlers

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.