...not a single one of their drivers is picking up people who want to go the same direction as the driver.
Not to disagree with your main point. I actually agree with you for the most part.
But this is called a destination filter. As drivers, we're only allowed to use this feature twice a day. For a part-time driver who's only driving to work and back each day, this is ok. For a full-time driver, the idea is to use that destination filter once at the beginning of your shift and once at the end of your shift, so as to not waste gas when you're ready to go home. But in between, you don't want to move your car too much while waiting for the next fare, because as an Uber driver you're operating on razor thin margins and you'd be wasting gas if you did that.
By the way, this is one reason the taxi system is so antiquated. Some taxis from outside the suburbs of a city with hard-to-get medaillons are only allowed to drop off passengers in that city, but not pick them up. In other words, in those cities where the medallions are very expensive to get, the system forces outside taxis to do return trips without passengers in the back. This is actually super wasteful. This increases gridlock, doubles the price for those trips, and reduces the number of available taxis at a time when they're really needed. If you ask me, taxis should be only regulated at the state level, not at the city level. Taxis regularly cross city boundaries. That's a fact of our modern era.
Also, there is something called UberPool (or LyftLine if you use Lyft), which is only available in some areas. The idea is that we pick up person A at one location, pick up person B on the way, pick up person C on the way, drop off person A on the way, drop off person B on the way, and then drop off person C. This actually works extremely well. Several times, I've actually picked up three people that didn't know each other from the same exact night club, just because they were all going in the same general direction. Or I've done the reverse, and picked up three different people at different locations, only to bring them to the same exact location. Although, if person A agrees to do UberPool and we don't pick up anyone else on the way, their fare still gets a discount of 20%. And where fares are not fixed by government regulations, UberPool passengers save more money than 20% the more they can split their journey with other passengers that we've picked up on the way. This feature is especially popular with University students, young professionals, and newbies who got confused by the interface.
...despite all the money they're bilking from people, still can't turn a profit.
By the way, Uber is profitable in the US. It's just not profitable worldwide.
In any case, I do agree that the company is very deceptive with the way it compensates drivers, it basically lies to us all the freaking time, but I just wanted to set the record straight about a few things.