Super Uber: Houston, we have a problem


Did I mention that I got into strife from Uber the other day.

It was after the biggest day I’ve had as a driver so far – Anzac Day.

It’s the day most Sydneysiders leave their car at home and head down to their favourite watering hole for a drink and game of two-up.

The day started slowly as usual but things picked up quickly after I took a young woman from Auburn in Sydney’s west to busy Bondi Junction.

Suddenly, I found myself caught up in the Eastern Suburbs scramble, as I ferried groups of Millennials between home and the pub for a big night out.

That included busy Bondi Beach where the Promenade was going off.

Finding passengers in the midst of this chaos was a challenge, but missing them was a real pain as it meant another lap of the foreshore – it’s almost impossible to turn around.

It was a long and hectic day but I managed to double my figures, with twice the number of passengers and close to double the takings. Tired but feeling pretty npleased with myself I finally headed for home.

I’d survived.

My good spirits faded however after I received an email from Uber later that night.

Houston we have a problem.

I’d been accused of “inappropriate” behaviour by one of my passengers.

The way it was written it sounded like I’d tried to grope a female passenger and I was understandably mortified.

“Further feedback that suggests inappropriate or unprofessional behaviour may prompt us to review your access to the Uber app,” it warned.


How could I possibly respond to an allegation like that without knowing the details of what I was supposed to have done.

It looked my career as an Uber driver was going to be a lot shorter than I anticipated.

I emailed the person who had “reached out” to me and asked them to elaborate, but it was several nerve wracking hours before I received a reply.

“Due to our privacy policy I won’t be able to provide this information to you directly,” she said.

“What I can let you know is that a rider from one of your recent trips reached out to us to let us know that you may have started to drive off while the rider was still inside the vehicle.”

Reached out. I’ve always hated that expression – it’s just so American. But at least I understood what I was supposed to have done.

I felt relieved but a bit miffed at the same time. Young people are so quick to jump on the phone and complain these days.

In the interests of full disclosure I should explain that I hadn’t tried to kidnap anyone as suggested – exactly the opposite in fact.

Seriously Uber. Talk about getting the wrong end of the stick.

One of the major complaints levelled by drivers concerns Uber’s poor communication skills. They’re difficult to contact, slow to respond and generally provide pre-programed replies – instead of respondinding diectly to issues.

What actually happened was that as a group of young women piled into the car I had started to move off before the last of my passengers was fully aboard – easily done during such a busy period.

The car had moved only a few centimetres before I quickly reapplied the brakes, and everyone had had a good laugh – or so I thought.

It wasn’t what I’d describe as “inappropriate” behaviour – unsafe perhaps – but point taken nevertheless.

After explaining what had really happened and promising to be more careful in future, Uber decided to drop the matter.

“We acknowledge as well that there are two sides to every story, which is why we made sure to reach out to you (that horrible expression again).

“Based on your response, however, there will be no further action taken with your account at this stage.”

Okay. Lesson learned – fortunately no one was hurt.

Now I put the car in park and apply the handbrake every time I stop to pick up someone, only releasing the hand brake after I’ve checked everyone is safely in and buckled up.

Talk later.

Uber #1

uber #2

Uber #3