Last week an Uber driver ran over my daughter. She only gave the driver one star. Zero stars and ‘Driver ran me over’ wasn’t an option.
It happened like this: my 19-year-old daughter used the peer-to-peer Uber service to meet friends at Trivia at an inner-city Melbourne pub. When getting out of the Uber, she walked behind the vehicle to cross the road and the car backed into her, knocking her to the ground. It happened really quickly, and before she knew it she was under the back of the vehicle, managing to bang on it with her hand as she went down to alert the driver.
In the process of falling under the vehicle she injured her foot. The driver got out of his car to check she was okay. Having just been hit by a car my daughter pulled herself up and started moving across the road. The driver took this to mean that she was fine and left. My daughter then collapsed crying onto the footpath unable to move. She was taken to hospital where she was assessed and treated for a broken foot.
That’s about the most eventful Trivia night she’ll ever go to. She may require surgery. We’ll find out next week. She is now in pain, may have ongoing issues with her mobility, and can’t work thanks to an injury incurred by a driver working for a company who claim no responsibility for such an incident.
You see, Uber is just a ride-sharing app. When you use Uber you are only using their app. I guess if the app backed into you they would be responsible. When you use Uber you are riding in a person’s own vehicle, not a commercially registered and insured one. That’s part of the reason that Uber rides are cheaper: you pay less for more risk.
There is no phone number to ring Uber once you have been run over. You have to go in to your profile and make a comment on your trip, like ‘Driver ran me over’. Uber then promises to be in contact. And they do make contact. Eventually.
When my daughter got hit by the Uber she rang me on the way to the hospital to tell me what happened. I told her that after the hospital she needed to make a police report. She needed the driver details. I assumed that as she has used an Uber that they still exist in the app trip history.
When she’s at the hospital she rang me and told me only the driver’s first name was there. The registration of his car, which was available while waiting for the ride, had disappeared. Once he pulled away from the kerb where my daughter later fell in agony, his registration details vanished into the Uber accountability abyss.
When Uber finally contacted my daughter they wouldn’t provide driver details. So I got her to forward the number that they contacted her on. This is not a number you would find with any Google search. It’s a number for drivers only. I persist pushing numbers until I get a human.
I’m angry. Really, really angry. I say, ‘An Uber driver ran over my daughter’. The operator says, ‘I am sorry that happened to her’. He says it with the same tone you’d use when commiserating with someone who left their phone on the back seat. Or dropped their coffee.
‘I am sorry to hear that happened to her’ has that tone people use when they do Non-Violent Communication classes and learn how to deflect anger by directing it it back on the complainant. It’s not an apology. It’s a standard corporate deflection of blame and culpability.
I am informed that owing to ‘privacy’ regulations Uber cannot release driver information without the driver’s consent. Without the driver details my daughter can’t complete her police report.
The faceless robots at Uber tell us that by law my daughter should have got the details at the scene of the accident. Hmm, maybe when her head was under the number plate she should have got on to Snapchat? Instagrammed the shit out of his muffler? Days later Uber relented, admitting that owing to the seriousness of the incident, here are the driver’s registration details!
There’s a reason that taxi fares are higher than Uber fares: taxis are a regulated and heavily insured industry. While Uber means you can estimate your car arrival times, routes, and streamline payment, it has the lightest form of consumer protection. But hey, on the upside you can use your app to watch your Uber back over you. Until it drives off, never to be seen again.