Woman Claims Uber Driver Demanded 'Big, Long Hug' Instead Of Fare
Jennifer Cosper says she was walking home at night from Franklin Village last winter when she was approached by a man claiming he was an Uber driver. That alleged encounter would later end with him insisting that she give him a hug instead of fare for the ride.
The 40-year-old woman told LAist her story after news came out about an off-duty Uber driver who was accused of kidnapping a drunk woman and taking her to a motel this week.
Cosper said she was a little tipsy from drinking that night and had never used the ride-sharing app before—only taxi cabs. The driver was standing by a black SUV in a parking lot at the 76 Gas Station at the corner of N. Beachwood Drive and Franklin Avenue. When he saw her walking by, he yelled "Uber" to her. Cosper told him she didn't need a ride, but "He kept saying, 'Come on, you don't want to walk home—it's cold,'" she said.
She was a little suspicious since she had never heard of a cab driver pitching a ride to someone on the street before and asked him to show her proof that he was an official Uber driver. He showed her a business card with "UBER" written across it in all caps.
Cosper decided to relent since it was cold on that evening, and she had to walk up a hill. She got in his SUV, and he drove her to her apartment. He told her that he was going to have a cigarette before he left. He handed her a cigarette while she was still sitting in the car fumbling for her keys, and she took it from him. When she finally found her keys, she looked up and saw that he was outside of the car and opening her passenger side door.
She got out of the car and he asked her for a "big, long hug." "No, I don't really even know you," Cosper said she told him. "How much do I owe?"
He ignored her and kept asking how he could get in contact with her for dinner. And after she repeatedly asked him how much she owed him, she just pushed some cash his way. He refused to take the money and again requested she give him a hug instead before she left.
She didn't get his name nor report him to any authorities or Uber. However, Cosper described him as a well-dressed man in his late 40s, standing about 5'6" to 5'8" with dark hair and a dark complexion.
Uber's communication team told LAist that their drivers are not supposed to pitch rides to people or accept hails:
"Uber is an on-demand app that connects riders with driver partners. Uber rides are only arranged via the app. We do not accept street hails. Uber’s highest priority is connecting our users to the safest, most reliable transportation providers in their community. We have a two-way feedback loop for riders and driver partners to report any unusual activity."
They added that riders are given info on their driver's name, photo, car type, and license plate number so they know that they are getting in the right car. Also, riders are able to call their drivers only through an anonymized number, so that they can get in contact with their driver without sharing any of their personal information.
This isn't the first time Uber has allegedly had issues with its drivers. An NBC4 investigation in April revealed that a driver with a violent criminal record had been hired by the company. A woman told LAist in January that an Uber driver wouldn't let her out of his car unless she gave him a five-star rating. And another woman told LAist her story of how an Uber driver tried to extort $500 from her when she left her phone in the car.