While utilizing a certain service, we expect to be fully catered to. But that’s not what Devu Sukumar from Trivandrum experienced. On the night of 23rd April, when she and her family hailed an Uber cab to their home at Papanamcode, the cab driver refused to drop them at their house, which is 500 meters away from their home.
Devu and her husband tried to reason with the driver as the hour was late (11 pm) and they were travelling with a child and had several bags as they were returning from a long journey. According to Devu, who works in the IT sector, “My husband tried to convince him that our house is located within their serviceable area. Probably with intentions to get more money from us, he was very rude with my husband and started arguing. (He was aware that we had no other option but to take his ride). From our responses, we made it clear that we wouldn’t be paying him extra. On reaching Pappanamcode junction, he stopped the car and asked us to get out. We tried to make him understand the difficulty in traveling with a baby, five bags and two women dead in the night but the driver was very adamant. He not only denied us the service we paid for but left us in a horrible situation. We had no option but to get out and walk.”
Distressed, she lodged a complain against the driver in the help section of the application’s site. Even after two days, when she didn’t get a satisfactory reply from the company officials in the form or an apology or a refund, she posted about it on her social media page. “I am seriously questioning safety in Uber rides. I have heard of similar experiences by other people, but the shock when something actually happens to you is traumatic. The driver’s confidence and the unfair response from Uber are clear indication that these guys can do whatever they please, take advantage of the riders and not be questioned. We have so many people who have late night work shifts who solely depend on Uber to reach home safe. Even companies have tied up with them to provide safe and convenient travel for their employees (my company included). After my experience, I am dreading this arrangement. I have lost complete faith in the safety of their cab services. I am notifying my concerns to my company as well for the benefit of my colleagues,” the post read.
On getting in touch with the General Manager, Kerala, of Uber, Nitin Nair, he said, “Usually in cases like these, the driver is waitlisted until the incident is resolved. We wait for a version of events from both the driver and the rider to be sure of facts. If it is a matter of law and order wherein the driver is misbehaving, turning violent or sexually harassing the rider, we bring in law enforcement and take the necessary action. The safety of our riders is our top priority and the reported conduct has no place on the Uber app. We have removed the driver’s access from the app and we are looking into the matter. That said, we do aim for safe riding experience for all our riders.” He went on to explain that in case of an emergency, the user does have the option of using the SOS function in the application which gets directed to the 100 number. The rider or user will then get a call from the police and the Uber office enquiring about the situation and offer/send help accordingly. Also there are other features like GPS tracking and users being able to share their ride upto four trusted friends to make the ride safer.
His advice to tackle with situations like these in the future like driver refusing you to drop or not following the recommended route, would be to wait till the ride ends and raise a ticket or register a complaint. Appropriate action will definitely be taken.
As for Devu’s situation, she updated The Kochi Post, that the driver, Rajesh has been suspended and the ride fees was refunded.