Happy Hour has been receiving requests to share the unnerving and traumatic experience of Becca Romero (the daughter of Omy and Rosanne Romero who are members of the Manila-based Christian community known as Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon or LNP) regarding Uber.
According to Becca, she booked a ride with the online transport company from Greenbelt to a certain destination. After making sure that the door was not child-locked, she got in.
“When the trip started, I noticed that my driver had a cap on and did not greet me nor verify my identity like most (if not all) Uber drivers usually do once their passenger enters. He also did not ask me my preferred route (Uber drivers usually ask right away). I also noticed that there was an overwhelmingly strong almond-jelly scent, and that the aircon was on full-blast and facing only the back,” went the account from Becca.
Becca recalls the same observations made by another girl who had shared her experience previously—the cap, the full-blast aircon directed only at the passenger and the unfriendly driver. “She mentioned that benzaldehyde is a chemical that smells like almond-jelly (or something sweet and fruity), which can be used to mask other strong smelling scents/chemicals. I also read that you could try to keep the fumes out by putting a wet towel or hanky over your nose. I only had wet wipes and a dry hanky, but I put it over my nose anyway to help keep from inhaling the scent in car,” continued Becca’s story.
Less than 10 minutes after boarding the vehicle, Beccas says she started experiencing dizziness and also felt lightheaded, while her arms also began to “feel heavy, tingly and numb all at once.” Sensing that “something was wrong,” the young woman immediately told the Uber driver that she was feeling dizzy and was getting off. The driver only said “Ma’am?”—at which point Becca unlocked the car door and got off.
“I was shaking, dizzy and nauseous the minute I got down, Thankfully, my cousin Isabel was still in Makati and we just took a shuttle home instead,” Becca narrated, expressing her gratitude to a girl named “Christine” who had shared her experience which alerted the young woman.
“I don’t think I will be booking Uber anytime soon. I have reported the incident but received an unsatisfactory template response from Uber,” she continued, adding that it was the same email response that “Christine” also received from the transport company.
Our buddies say that what happened to Becca is not an isolated incident, and that there have also been a lot of other complaints about Uber and its drivers not only in the Philippines but other places. Last Valentine’s Day, news came out about this driver that was banned by the company for sexually harassing a passenger by flashing his private part during the ride.
Just recently, a blog post reported about claims by former Uber employees that they were subjected to sexism and abuse, but that the company remained indifferent to the plight of these former software engineers. For instance, a female employee was subjected to ridicule by the males when she commented that a T-shirt worn by a male colleague and which showed a naked woman on it might not be appropriate attire for the office. There were also instances where females were allegedly talked down to by male managers—which suggests a less than ideal working environment.
Since the time Uber began operations in 2009, it has become huge and dominant with presence in 60 countries and valued at $68 billion. However, it also has a lot of issues and controversies that it must face such as alleged tax evasion, vulture pricing and most of all—the safety of its passengers, many of whom are beginning to feel uneasy at the thought that they could be at the mercy of total strangers who might not have been properly vetted but were accepted by Uber simply because they happen to own vehicles.
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