These Stories About Uber Might Make You Want To Think Twice About Travelling Alone

Users of the taxi app in the US warn of experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of drivers


by Olivia Marks |
Published on

Uber, for those that aren't familiar with it (where’ve you been?), is an app which connects those in need of a lift somewhere, with a driver who is available to provide one. Think of it as an on-demand taxi service, with what are basically freelance cab drivers.

Any uneasy feelings you might have about getting into a stranger's car should be offset by the fact that the drivers are vetted by Uber, and there is a rating system by which you can review your ride, and flag up any dodgy behaviour. And it's better than standing alone in the street on a cold, dark night, right?

Well in most cases, probably. But according to reports in the US, where Uber has been in operation since 2009 (it's only just gaining traction here in the UK), those feelings of unease are well-founded.

While Uber is coming under fire for a rise in prices recently, Olivia Nuzzi, political reporter at The Daily Beast, reports that sexual harassment of Uber's customers could prove to be the company's biggest opposition to real success.

Nuzzi recounts a creepy incident with an Uber driver that saw him getting the sack. But then the driver managed to find her email, and he contacted her asking for help in getting his job back. As it turns out, the privacy of customers in the US isn’t as tight as Uber has let on. The driver can access the full name of the passenger, and their phone number.

And, after asking other women to share their experiences of the taxi app, Nuzzi received messages that contained tales of unwanted fondling, verbal abuse and harassment. In 2013, a woman accused an Uber driver who had given her a ride of rape. Prosecutors dropped the investigation.

Unlike licensed cab companies, Uber drivers don’t have ID numbers, and Uber doesn’t have a phone number which you can call to report incidents.

But then, this hasn’t always stopped licensed cab drivers from harassing their passengers either. All taxi services – traditional or otherwise – should probably, unfortunately, be treated with a certain amount of caution.

Picture: Ada Hamza

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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