Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ubers and Taxis

**NOTE: None of the stories are super recent, they're just being shown as examples of things that have happened and could happen.

It's an interesting concept, Uber is: a form of "carpooling", as I call it, as opposed to a bus or a "normal" taxi. Simple enough.
As interesting as it is, I just feel like there's a lot that could happen to people who use this service. I mean, obviously there's requirements involved for someone to become an uber driver:
"In some markets, where leasing arrangements for vehicles are available, the only requirement for driving for Uber, other than appropriate age, health, and ability to drive, is passing a background check. Both a smartphone, called a "device" by Uber, and a vehicle may be leased.
Legislation in some cities (such as San Francisco) requires individuals who drive for Uber to also own a business license in the city in which they drive. As stated above, Uber is a mobile app company and therefore does not employ drivers. As a result, Uber drivers are considered independent contractors and in need of a valid business license. Some analysts predict that the trend is likely to expand across the United States.
There are companies that specialize in business license compliance specifically for Uber drivers." -Source
But that's it, and to be honest, that doesn't necessarily stop dangerous or creepy people from becoming uber drivers, which is, tbh, my only issue with the company, or with the service.
It's an issue in that, especially if it's a person using Uber all by themselves, if the driver is a creep or someone who is potentially very dangerous, bad things could happen, people could get hurt or sexually assaulted, maybe even go missing. (Obviously the majority of drivers involved in this company are not bad or dangerous people, I'm just uncomfortable with the idea that, should I ever use an Uber, it's basically the same thing as getting into a strangers car and having them drive you someplace: it could be anyone and anything could happen. It just makes me anxious. I feel basically the same about taxis.)
"In February 2016, Uber's vetting procedures came under scrutiny once more following a shooting spree purportedly committed by Jason Dalton, an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dalton is believed to have been driving for Uber at the time while allegedly conducting a shooting spree that left six people dead and two others wounded. This led to a seven-hour manhunt for the suspect, during which it is believed that Dalton continued to drive and accept fares. Uber was aware of the issues with Dalton, having received multiple complaints."
Some crazy times with Uber:

"A couple of days ago myself and a couple of friends went to a large city for a concert. We booked a hotel just a few minutes from where the concert was supposed to take place, but 2 days before the trip, it was moved to another venue across town and there was no time to change our hotel. It was now about a 20 minute drive across town to get there in a city we were unfamiliar with. We decided it would be easier to use the Uber app for the first time and get a ride with someone who most likely knew where they were going so we wouldn't have to worry about it. I was a little hesitant about it. The idea of riding with a random stranger who just downloaded an app and decided to be an amateur taxi didn't sit well with me, but it was a lot cheaper than a taxi and none of us had much cash on us, so it was really our only option.
Things started out well enough, we booked the ride, the guy showed up within minutes and we all piled in. He was nice enough and we made some small talk for a bit. Then we get to a residential neighborhood and he tells us we're here. There was nothing even remotely close to a concert venue in sight. He tells us that we must have entered the address wrong and we looked it up ourselves and showed him that we most definitely did not and we are on the completely wrong side of town. He gets pissed, reprograms his gps to the correct location and tears off. No longer driving cautiously and no longer friendly and talkative.
About half an hour later we are finally nearing our correct destination (we were following along on our own phones gps now) and he misses the exit on the freeway. Instead of doing what a normal person would and continuing on, taking the next exit or letting the gps recalculate, he STOPS...ON THE HIGHWAY and looks at his phone to try and figure out what to do. He then turns on his flashers and THROWS THE CAR INTO REVERSE ON THE INTERSTATE like he's going to back up and take the exit. Needless to say a car comes screeching to a stop behind us, barely missing us. Unfortunately the car behind them did not. I will never forget the sound of the people behind us screaming as the back end of their car came up off the ground they were hit so hard. Then the guy tells us he doesn't want any trouble and drives off.
At this point we were just telling him to take an exit and let us out. When he does so, we realize we're on the correct street and about a mile away from the concert, so we go ahead and have him take us the rest of the way. We couldn't get out of the car fast enough. We all stood there dumbfounded and eventually decide we need to talk to the cops. Luckily there was one working at the concert, so we gave him what information we could, but it wasn't much. He basically told us since the guy wasn't physically involved in the accident even though he caused it, that he wouldn't be in trouble for leaving the scene.
My friend who ordered the ride was looking at his app to see what options he had to report the guy to Uber and noticed he had charged us double for all the extra driving that was entirely his fault. Pretty much ruined our evening and our Uber experience. We were terrified to take another on the way back but didn't have much choice. Luckily the ride home was great, the driver was friendly and professional and had us back at the hotel in 15 minutes instead of the 45 minutes of hell we had endured on the original trip.
" -  //

Afraid for her life: A Los Angeles woman was taken on a 2-hour long, terrifying ride across the city recently when an Uber driver refused to take her home
Her provided screenshot
"An Uber customer says her driver all but abducted her recently when he took her on a terrifying two-hour ride across Los Angeles.
 The unnamed rider didn't seem to know what the driver wanted to do to her, but he succeeded in turning her pleasant evening out into a nightmare as he drove her some 20 miles from her San Fernando Valley home into a dark, empty parking lot. She told Valleywag that, were it not for her screams and the commotion she made when he locked her in the car, she may never have made it home. Making the saga all the more terrifying, the woman says Uber doesn't seem too concerned about her experience. Despite having entered her address into the popular app when she first ordered a car, the driver--according to screen shots she provided to Valleywag--drove her miles away from home. She told the company that the ride continued in the opposite direction from her home despite her repeated protests. In response to her complaint, the company sent her an automated notice that she'd be refunded half the fare because of the 'inefficient route.' The following day, the company refunded the other half, but the passenger wasn't placated. She's now dealing with the LAPD and an attorney. The rider's experience is unfortunately not unique. Daveea Whitmire, a one-time Uber driver San Francisco, was charged in June with misdemeanor battery of a transit passenger. The 28-year-old Whitmire was accused of verbally and physically assaulting a passenger he picked up in the city's Castro District on Nov. 24. Patrick Karajah, 26, picked up three people from a bar around 2 a.m. Tuesday and, while driving the passengers to their destination, he got into an argument with one of the passengers who questioned the route he was taking, according to court documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. The documents said that Karajah, who was driving for the basic UberX service, forced the passengers out of his car in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Once the victim was out of the car, Karajah allegedly struck him on the side of his head with a hammer and drove away. The victim suffered facial fracture and trauma to the head, and was taken to the hospital." - Source

It's no better with Taxi's, though, because, again, anyone could wind up somehow being a taxi driver and causing someone harm in some way.
"I'm studying abroad, as well as my flatmates here so we're fairly unfamiliar with the city we're in. This happened a couple of weeks ago on Halloween night.
We'd gone out to some parties that night, and had been drinking pretty consistently throughout. At about 4AM, we finally decided to make our way back home. We're three just-turned-20 girls in short dresses, and while my two flatmates were still fairly drunk, I'd sobered up enough.
Halloween is always a pretty sociable night and we'd ended up meeting and joining various parties throughout, so at this point we found ourselves about a 50 minute walk away from our flat in an area we barely knew. Fittingly, it was very quiet out and foggy as hell. I remember commenting to my friend how it felt like that shot in The Exorcist.
We walked through empty back streets for a few minutes, eventually reaching a main road. Being the most sober of the lot, I was basically herding the others, despite being equally as exhausted, thus not at the top of my game.
After a few minutes of barely any cars passing - and what taxis we did see, they were occupied - my friend finally flagged one. UK taxis tend to be Black Cabs so they're easy to distinguish. This was some random car, but it had the signature luminescent bar on the top with TAXI written on it so I brushed it off.
The driver put down the window and gruffly asked us where we were going. We replied with our address. He then asked us how much we were willing to pay, equally as gruffly. Even to my drunk friends, this was weird. But being one of those exceedingly friendly Americans, one kept talking to him. We were all tired after all, and wanted to get home. I was still uneasy though, as we're staying in a very friendly place and any other taxi driver we've had has been really friendly, and always ready to wax poetic to foreigners about the city.
She was just about to get in when I happened to look up at the glowing TAXI sign, and noticed how distorted it was. Looking closer, I realised he'd just spelled TAXI in black tape across it! From afar it looked legit. Plus, if you're driving around at night time on weekends, you don't expect your clientele to pay too much attention to this sort of thing.
I quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her away, telling her to look at his sign. At first my friends didn't notice, but when they did they freaked out. Realising this, he drove off real quick.
An ACTUAL Black Cab passed not long after this, so we got home safely, but we were pretty shaken. Due to the money question, he was probably just a dude trying to extort more cash out of drunk people with a fake taxi (which is still illegal), but it could have been more sinister. We're young women after all, and you learn to be wary of almost any guy if you're alone late at night. I'm just so relieved I happened to look closer, though I have no idea why I did." - Source

It's really creepy that it's even possible to imitate a taxi driver in the first place. 
There's many instances where a person has gotten into a cab, believing it to be a legit cab, only for it to turn out to be some creep impersonating a taxi driver. (More often than not, I feel like any threatening cabs people might come into contact with are those of which being used by taxi driver impersonators and not legit taxi drivers)

"One morning me and my sister had just started our walk when a taxi driver pulled up to us and stopped (which isn't too weird since people in our area tend to travel a lot and use taxi to get to and from the airport, so we see them quite often). He rolled down his passenger window and asked us if we knew a certain address, which was just down the street so I pointed him in the right direction. He drive off towards the house, but then when he got close to that house he turned around completely and came back in our direction and turned around beside us again.
I was quite confused as to what he was doing at this point as he pulled up beside us again. He again rolled down his window, but this time he said something along the lines of "you kids look really tired, you should get in and I'll drive you to school" in a really persistent tone, but I told him we were good as we just went to school just down the road (there are a few schools down this street, and I wasn't specific as to which one we went to) after that he parked his car to go on his phone.
At this point I kind of got the creeps, as he was just sitting there talking on his phone staring at me and my sister as we kept walking. After we made it about another 30 feet the cab driver started up and drove up to us, keeping a slow pace and staring at us with his window down but didn't say aything. My sister started to freakout really bad at this point and I was trying my best to handle her and the situation by telling her to ignore him and keep walking.
He kept his pace and stare nearly the whole rest of the way as we walked to school, even after my sister started to cry. When we were about a minute away from school he drove away fast as hell and in this time I caught his cab number and company, but missed the license plate. I went straight to the office and told them what happened and gave them the information of the cab.
After school one of the education assistants was assigned to walk us home, as they were worried of a "repeated incidence" and was all we were told at that point. My mother later told us what really happened.
After I reported the incident to the school, the school informed my mother who called the cab company, filing a complaint against them and that driver. The scariest part is that the number we gave them wasn't a registered number in their system, and that they had been getting complaints around that time of similar incidences with that number.
They never caught the guy (from what I understand), but he did have a pretty convincing fake taxi and who knows what he was doing to the people that got into it. Me and my sister weren't allowed to walk to or from school alone for a while after that, we had to walk in groups with other neighbourhood kids or get a ride from our parents.
" - Source
Just stay safe. Be aware, pay attention to the driver and how they're acting. If you feel like something is wrong, don't get in the car.
Also, I mean, something bad is less likely to happen if there's more people. (obviously that doesn't mean something definitely won't happen, but it's less likely as creeps are more likely to go for people who are alone)

More Taxi Stories

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