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Is Uber Doing Enough to Protect Women from Drivers Who Stalk Them? [Broadly, 7//1/2016]

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 Posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Is Uber Doing Enough to Protect Women from Drivers Who Stalk Them?

After an Uber driver used Bridget Bechtel's number and address to harass her, she reported him. Uber’s response was less than comforting.
Kari Paul, July 1, 2016

Earlier this month, Bridget Bechtel took an Uber home around 10 PM after an evening of hanging out at a friend's apartment in Brooklyn. The 27-year-old says what started as small talk with her driver about his wife and kids quickly turned aggressive. He asked her if she had a boyfriend, told her to come sit in the front seat, and repeatedly demanded her phone number. She attempted to deflect his advances by telling him that her phone was dead, but when he became combative and asked her to write it on a piece of paper, she complied.

"He was not taking no for an answer, so eventually I wrote my number down thinking that would diffuse the situation," Bechtel says. "I probably should have given him a fake number, but I didn't think he would actually contact me, and figured I would just block his number if he did."

But he did try to contact her. First came several texts and phone calls, which Bechtel did not answer. Then, several days later, he showed up at her apartment.

He apparently knew the building address from driving Bechtel home previously, and according to her neighbors, rang every buzzer until he found the correct apartment unit. Panicked, she unblocked his number to tell him to leave, and immediately reported the incident to Uber through the app, as well as through its customer service email (Uber does not seem to have a phone line for user complaints).

"It was a huge abuse of his power," says Bechtel. "He has been put in a pos…

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Is Uber Doing Enough to Protect Women from Drivers Who Stalk Them?

After an Uber driver used Bridget Bechtel's number and address to harass her, she reported him. Uber’s response was less than comforting.
Kari Paul, July 1, 2016

Earlier this month, Bridget Bechtel took an Uber home around 10 PM after an evening of hanging out at a friend's apartment in Brooklyn. The 27-year-old says what started as small talk with her driver about his wife and kids quickly turned aggressive. He asked her if she had a boyfriend, told her to come sit in the front seat, and repeatedly demanded her phone number. She attempted to deflect his advances by telling him that her phone was dead, but when he became combative and asked her to write it on a piece of paper, she complied.

"He was not taking no for an answer, so eventually I wrote my number down thinking that would diffuse the situation," Bechtel says. "I probably should have given him a fake number, but I didn't think he would actually contact me, and figured I would just block his number if he did."

But he did try to contact her. First came several texts and phone calls, which Bechtel did not answer. Then, several days later, he showed up at her apartment.

He apparently knew the building address from driving Bechtel home previously, and according to her neighbors, rang every buzzer until he found the correct apartment unit. Panicked, she unblocked his number to tell him to leave, and immediately reported the incident to Uber through the app, as well as through its customer service email (Uber does not seem to have a phone line for user complaints).

"It was a huge abuse of his power," says Bechtel. "He has been put in a position where people trust him to get home safe, and he manipulated that to where I felt uncomfortable and couldn't say no to his advances. Then he took it a step further and kept my personal information and came to my home. It's predatory."

The app does not show drivers what passengers label their locations, including what address is "home" or "work," but Bechtel said the driver had asked where she was headed, in what she assumed was a gesture of small talk. Following the incident, Uber says it blocked Bechtel from ever matching with the driver again, but the company, citing its privacy policy, said it cannot disclose whether he is still driving for Uber.

The company "maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding all forms of discrimination, harassment or abuse," according to its community guidelines. Still, a representative from Uber did not say whether an incident involving a driver following a rider home would constitute harassment or abuse.

"Uber is deeply committed to the safety of the riders and partners using our platform and, therefore, we do take great care with reports of this nature," a support email Bechtel received in response to her report read. "I can assure you this is something we take extremely seriously and we will be taking any and all appropriate actions with the partner.

Read morehttps://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/mbqq7y/is-uber-doing-enough-to-protect-women-from-drivers-who-stalk-them

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