The disturbing experience of a woman passenger in an Uber cab in New Delhi has raised the issue of women's safety in taxis once again. In a Facebook post, a woman passenger has written in detail about a harrowing experience with an Uber driver earlier this week.
“…Immediately after the driver picked me up he started giving undue attention and asked me if I am going to my office and where do I work. I got suspicious at the moment and in order to avoid his questions, I started talking over the phone. Once I started speaking on the phone, he increased the volume of the radio to the maximum; however I didn’t confront him as I didn’t want any arguments. Then, when I stopped talking over the phone he started to ask me creepy questions like; “Madam, where do you stay and where are you from? Do you stay alone? Aap Delhi se nahi lag rahe ho, itna bhi kya narazi hain, aap kuch bhi nahi bol rahe ho?”
"Then I asked him to be professional and do his own work. Suddenly he started driving very rashly and was about to hit a car. When I asked him to drive properly, he told me, “Should I hit the other car (gadi thok du kya dusre gadi mein, tab aapko pata chalega”…I told him that I’ll make a complaint against him. He then, asked me to get down from the car in the middle of the road and I had to literally get down from the car in the midst of the traffic. Once I got down, he started following me with the car. He kept on following me for 2-3 minutes and then something clicked in mind and I pretended as if I was reading the number plate of his car and complaining to someone. He then drove away," the post added.
She says that when she mailed her complaint to Uber, she got a pop-up reply which said she would receive a call. When she got a call from an Uber number she heard the same driver on the line. She writes:
“When I was about to make a complaint, he (the caller) interrupted me and told me that the driver has made a complaint against me. I was really furious and narrated him the entire incident. However it didn’t feel as if I was talking to someone in customer service; it seemed to me that I was talking to the same driver. At last when I told him that I am going to make a police complaint, he told me the same driver will not come to pick me up again. I tried to tell him how it can be disastrous if the same person picks other girls and there can be an incident in the future. However, he didn’t listen to me and told me he had spent enough time talking to me.”
When YourStory contacted Uber on email about this, the spokesperson replied: “What has been described has no place on the Uber app. The driver has been barred from accessing the app and we are investigating the matter.”
Uber’s email to YourStory added that there were some inaccuracies in the rider’s Facebook post. “The initial call received by the rider was not from Uber. It seems the driver tried calling her and posing as an executive. We have suggested police assistance and support in the matter, as the rider may deem fit.” The email further added:
- Our support team reached out to the rider separately as is standard practice and action was taken against the driver as soon as this was brought to our attention. We have been in touch with the rider and notified her via email as well as calls of the driver being barred as well.
- Support numbers are secure lines; drivers do not have access to the support team’s numbers and cannot place calls to riders using the same.
- Since Truecaller indicates all masked driver numbers as Uber, the rider might have mistakenly assumed the same to be from an Uber support line.
- When support contacts rider or driver, the number is masked and there are randomised toll-free numbers that appear such as "914039594488", "8006640804". Only the person to whom the contact is allocated can access the information and no one else is exposed to this unless they are on that contact.
The taxi aggregator industry has been under scrutiny ever since an Uber passenger was raped by the driver in New Delhi in 2014. Although Uber, as well as its rival Ola, claim to have instituted safety measures including background checks of drivers following the 2014 incident, complaints of misbehaviour by drivers have continued to be made by riders.