By Dhaka Dickwella
Uber is a helpful app that has helped Sri Lankans to a greater extent. It is convenient, cost effective & useful. But there are certain aspects that are alarming & need the urgent attention of the authorities & Uber management themselves . Uber is just an app that has no support service when it comes to critical issues. The issues vary from Rude drivers to harassments to women which are serious in nature & need the full attention .
The app allows clients to book via cards & cash. Some find it easy to deal with the card since there is no hassle for changing money & so forth. The drivers make it a point to inquire about the method of the payment & cancel on the customer. They behave with such an awful attitude the moment you say the hire is on card. Even at times they honor a card hire , they will make sure to make the life so uneasy for the client by a constant complaint from the beginning till the end. The behavior is such a terrible one sometimes people wonder what kind of a criminal act they have just done. There are drivers who dare to scold in filth if you say the hire is on card. Now I wonder what our poor mothers had to do to be reminded & scolded in filth just because we decided to pay by card.
The sad part however is that you could not do anything about it. If a driver has put you through a real agony by an awfully horrendous filth & if he has canceled the trip , well god bless you. There is no section to complain about that. There is no action taken about these people who should be kept out of business or made to pay compensation . That is how Uber helps you.
There are those Uber drivers who con the customers with unbelievable tricks. After confirming a trip , they will inquire whether it is a Card Hire or a Cash. When you say it is a Card hire they will accept it. On the map they are a few Kilometers away from you. All of a sudden the app will show that the driver has picked you & started the journey. In another minute they will stop the hire. So there will be a charge of Rs.150.00 without you even seeing the Car. Trying to get that money back will be another nightmare effort of wasting your Data & time.
The other method of scamming is not so sophisticated. The driver will accept the hire & call you to inquire about the method of payment. Then they will say they will see you soon. App will tell you they are within 5 minutes of distance. For some reason they do not reach you within 5 minutes. After 10 minutes you try to reach out to the driver. He will not pick the phone. The car is not far from you & does not move . Nervously you keep calling & he never picks the phone. After 15 minutes you cancel the hire & try to book a new taxi. Uber will charge you a cancellation fee. Wait what ? Yes they do. When you try to reclaim it Uber will say ” This cancellation fee will help “the so-called drivers”. Do you really want it back” . Now what comes after that chaotic experience is even worse. You lose 15 minutes of your time & you have to pay a cancellation fee for what is apparently not your fault. Then when you book the hire again the charges have gone up by a considerable amount since there are less drivers in the area. How does that sound when you have to go for an important meeting & the last thing you want to lose is peace of mind.
Harassment towards Women
Sexual harassment towards passengers happen in every transport method unfortunately. But there is accountability. If a woman is harassed in a public bus or a known Taxi service you could always take action against the instigator. What does Uber do ? Some one from God knows where will call you & say Sorry & promise action . Is there feedback shared with the Victim ? No . Is there any protection mechanism ? No. I have heard of such incidents & I wonder what Uber has done to date with those culprits.
Not all Uber drivers are bad. There are some exceptionally nice & courteous people. They too have a lot of grievances that a company must listen to. What does Uber do to help such people? Next to nothing. For Uber those drivers are just another phone number. They are not worth anything more than that.
What should be Done?
At this rate we are not far from a day that Uber drivers assault a customer & getaway with that. This has to be stopped. Uber has to be made accountable for this impunity. The Government of Sri Lanka has to intervene. Uber must be asked to open a country office to handle customer complaints. There should be a Hotline or some responsible service available in Sri Lanka. Uber has to be brought to Justice for what they have done so far & they must be accountable & made an example.
No one is against Digitization of Transport systems. We love to embrace convenient systems. But not at “Any Cost”. There should be responsibility & accountability. Brining Uber under the Transport Ministry’s purview would be the best. Uber should tell Sri Lankans their customer care policies. What they will do to prevent & prohibit ” any & every harassment ” towards women. Uber has to publish actions taken against any & every individual who has committed Harmful acts.
So this is a Kind reminder to all the Authorities concerned. Act now. Stop the impunity of Uber.