Uber Driver Refuses to Pick Up Pregnant Lady, Charges Her Anyway
Anyone who has been pregnant without having a car has probably worried a bit about how to get to the hospital while in labor. Would a taxi driver pick you up, or drive away? Lately it would seem like that problem was largely gone away, because Uber exists and makes it possible to get a car whenever and wherever you need one. Sure, you might have to deal with surge pricing, but Uber at least seems to be pretty cool about having babies born in their cars. Company policy is reportedly for babies born in Ubers to get complimentary “Uber Rider” onesies, and for the drivers to get tickets to a sporting event and a professional car cleaning paid for. (Uber might not make any money off those trips, but it does get a lot of good press for it. Especially when the drivers deliver the babies and the mothers are so grateful they name their sons “Uber,” which happened recently in an Uber in India.) But this week one couple says an Uber driver left a laboring woman on the side of the street and refused to give her a ride, but then charged her for his time anyway.
According to NBC, a New York man named David Lee says that an Uber driver who showed up to take his wife to the hospital saw that she had been sick and refused to drive them, saying that if she got sick it would cost him $1,000 to clean the car. Lee says he said that his wife would not get sick again, and that he would foot the bill if she did. (The driver seems to have been unaware of Uber’s habit of paying for professional cleaning of vehicles that are soiled in the course of transporting pregnant women to hospitals.)
The driver allegedly drove off, leaving Lee, his wife, and their birth coach waiting on the sidewalk. Before he left he said that no other driver would pick them up, and then he charged them $13 via the app for the time he took to come out to them.
Lee and his wife had better luck on the second try. The next Uber driver happily picked the up and took them to the hospital, and their son was born safely a few hours later.
Lee says that eventually Uber agreed to give him back the $13 the original driver had charged, but he’s still mad.
“I donâ€™t blame Uber for one driverâ€™s poor actions, since bad apples can appear in any organization, but I do think that when a company has a culture of bullying their way past laws and regulations, as Uber seems to do, they begin to think they can act with impunity in anything,â€ Lee told Fortune.
State and city laws in New York prohibit taxi drivers from refusing service to a woman in labor, and Lee maintains the same rules apply to Uber drivers. Last year Uber and Lyft were sued by disabled passengers who said some drivers were refusing service to passengers in wheelchairs or with service animals.
Uber issued a statement saying that it was not OK for the driver to have refused service because Lee’s wife was pregnant.
â€œDenying service to a passenger in labor is unacceptable: it goes against our code of conduct and the standard of service our riders rely on. We extend our deepest apologies to both riders and have taken action to respond to this complaint. We are glad that the riderâ€™s next driver was professional and courteous.â€