Law and Enforcement

UBER FACEMASK LIE STRANDS PREGNANT WOMAN

The 4.84-rated Uber driver falsely accused a pregnant passenger of not wearing a mask as a justification for cancelling a late-night trip

An Uber driver falsely claimed a pregnant woman wasn’t wearing a face mask as justification for abruptly cancelling a booked trip in the early hours of this morning (5 September).

Uber sent a message to the woman, who was left stranded outside her offices at around 1am, claiming she was in violation of the company’s face mask policy. “We’re reaching out because a driver who recently cancelled one of your trips let us know that you were not wearing a face cover or mask,” says Uber’s message.

But the customer, who prefers not be named, says that’s a blatant lie: the 31-year-old lawyer, who was working late in Landmark, says she’s been wearing a mask in public as a matter of routine since mid-January, and is never without. She affirms she was wearing a mask while waiting for the Uber X, and that the car simply didn’t show up.

“I had no cash for taxi and wanted to get home, so I booked the Uber X,” she says, “even though it’s around HK$60, more expensive than a taxi, which usually costs $35. And I was wearing a mask, of course,” she says.

The driver has a rating of 4.84 and has made some 4,540 trips in his Mazda 6. Uber requested the driver’s name and digits from his licence plate not be published.

“To avoid this happening again, you must follow Uber’s policy and wear a face cover or a mask the next time you take a trip,” says the company’s message.

The customer says she feels falsely accused and there’s no redress on the company’s website for what she calls its “dishonesty” and her late-night stranding.

And while Uber in the US says women’s safety is important, and that its app offers “24/7 support… from a specialized team of Uber agents,” there’s no such channel for women in Hong Kong.

“If there is any support for vulnerable women it’s very well hidden,” says the stranded passenger.

Uber later sent a replacement car which, the woman noted, had no hire car licence. “I had no choice at this point to just go with it,” she says.

Uber in Hong Kong has been criticised for allowing vehicles without such licences to ply its system.

And last year, London officials decided to not renew Uber’s provisional licence to operate in the city, citing “a pattern of failures by the company” that “placed passengers and their safety at risk.” Transport for London said Uber was “not fit and proper” to hold a licence with concerns that “Uber’s systems seem to have been comparatively easily manipulated.”

Uber Hong Kong has not responded to questions about the incident or women’s safety in Hong Kong.

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