Uber Reportedly Offered London Woman £20 Credit in Response to Allegations That Her Driver Sexually Harassed Her
The allegations of sexual harassment and assault are piling up against Uber: According to Newsweek, a London woman reported to Uber being sexually harassed by one of their drivers…and the company responded by offering her £20 credit — or about $31 — toward her next ride. As Bustle’s Cecily Trowbridge asked earlier this week, why are we still giving Uber our money? Everything about this is wrong. Absolutely everything.
Newsweek got its hands on the email exchange between the passenger and the company about the ride, which occurred back in March of 2014. Initially, she kept it brief, writing, “Driver was very forward and quite creepy. Asked me if I wanted him to go down on me. Not cool.” A marketing manager wrote back apologizing for the “intrusive experience” and stating that the company was “already investigating this with [the driver] and I can assure you that the necessary actions will be taken to avoid a similar incident in future.”
If you think that was an unsatisfactory response, though, you’re not alone; so did the passenger, who replied with a detailed description of the ride. When she first entered the car, she sat in the back; however, she was feeling car sick, so when the driver told her she could sit up front, she did. This in and of itself sounds a little sketchy, although not as alarming as it quickly got. First he began asking her about her relationship status; then, she recounted the following:
“Towards the end of the journey he was asking if I liked blow jobs, saying that he was very good at going down on girls or giving ‘sucky sucky’ to girls and did I want him to do it to me. He even suggested that he could pull over into a side street and do it now if I wanted, which was I think the scariest part of the drive.
“I am aware that this kind of thing becomes very much a he-said, she-said kind of deal, but I did want to make you aware of it as I feel that people really trust the Uber name (as I do) and my trust was completely violated. I am pretty relaxed and outgoing and I feel that I can take care of myself, and if I felt so uncomfortable I dread to think how a more timid girl would have felt. I won't be taking this any further but I do implore you to take this quite seriously as I worry for other women who could find themselves in a similar situation.”
That’s when a different marketing manager refunded her ride and gave her the £20 credit; after that, she heard nothing else from the company about the case. Newsweek did contact Uber for comment; the company said they couldn’t confirm that the driver had been fired, but did state that “the driver in question is no longer on the Uber platform.”
Although in its response to the passenger, Uber’s marketing managers wrote that they were “sorry… for such an un-Uber experience,” this kind of Uber experience is becoming increasingly common. Uber horror stories that fall on the milder end of spectrum (although “mild” is a relative term — they’re all awful) include an angry driver telling a passenger with cancer who cancelled her ride that she “deserves” her illness, while those on the even more horrific end include multiple rape allegations and striking and killing a six-year-old girl. I don’t think I need to stress how absolutely unacceptable all of this is. And not only that, but the problem is twofold: First, that these incidents are happening at all; and second, the way the company responds when they do happen.
The cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are currently suing Uber both for its surge pricing practices (which is a whole 'nother can of worms) and for the safety issues. According to the Los Angeles Times, the charges include that the company falsely claims to conduct “industry leading” background checks on drivers — for which, it should be noted, they actually charge passengers extra for in the form of a “Safe Rides Fee.” These background checks don’t involve fingerprinting, which San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon says makes them “completely worthless.” How can we be sure of our safety riding with Uber when it's charging us for background checks that might not actually accomplish what they’re supposed to? Apparently we can’t. And I don't know about you, but that's just not good enough for me.
And I’ll be honest: I also think the way Uber handles cases like this is completely inappropriate. Offering credit after a traumatic experience seems like the feeblest thing you could possibly do — more a slap in the face to the passenger than any attempt to actually solve the problem.
Uber has already been banned in Spain, Thailand, and New Delhi; it’s also been deemed illegal in Portland, although the service decided to launch there recently anyway. I know Uber can be convenient, but there’s just too much that’s troubling about how it operates for me to use it in good conscience. Uber doesn’t look like it gives a damn about operating ethically or even safely, and I doubt it's going to change its tune anytime soon. Maybe all those former users who have been deleting the app in protest are onto something. After all, Uber can’t take advantage of customers it doesn't have, right?
Images: Getty Images (2)