Uber B.V. (the Dutch company that licenses the Uber application to end users) changed their "Terms of Use" agreement in Canada on November 19th. I was notified of this by an email from Uber Canada (shown below).

The Terms of Use agreement on their website notes that it was changed on November 12th yet their notice only went out to users on November 19th. The least they could do is notify users the day of the change, and not a week later. It is not a best practice to notify users after you have purportedly unilaterally amended your contract with them.

The larger issue is that there's no explanation of what Uber changed. They promise that the terms are "simplified" and "more accurately reflect" their business but what business? Is it important to users that their business has changed?

Typically, companies post a blog post that explains what's changed (e.g. Kickstarter, LinkedIn or Facebook). The reason for this is that users shouldn't be expected to compare and contrast between two documents (that aren't marked up). And in this case it doesn't seem like customers can see what the old agreement is in order to compare against the new one. Shouldn't Uber provide a copy of the old terms on their website, if they won't explain what's changed?

Using Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive it's possible to see what the terms used to look like: https://web.archive.org/web/20150427213811/https://www.uber.com/legal/can/terms.

A quick compare of the old and new terms shows that virtually the entire agreement has been changed. The changes include important changes to rights such as inserting an arbitration provision into the agreement (and many other changes.)

Uber (and interested readers) should probably check out Eric Goldman's excellent articles on issues about amending electronic contracts and the legal risk when doing it wrong: http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/category/licensingcontracts.

If you are running a business that relies on your terms of use please do not copy Uber B.V.'s amendment process.