Uber customers in London are reporting an increase in drivers cancelling bookings, leaving them stranded and leading to significantly delayed journeys.
Passengers complained on social media of long waits for cabs and repeatedly having bookings cancelled after their journey had been accepted.
Amanda O'Shaughnessy, senior network and communications manager for communications agency M&C Saatchi Talk, reported being kept waiting by an Uber driver for 30 minutes at 3am in south London last month.
“The driver insisted he was nearby but I was on an empty street by myself in Earlsfield and I hadn’t seen a single car pass,” she said.
“He kept asking me where I was and I’d explain, only to have him say he’d find me, and he never did.”
Ms O'Shaughnessy was able to make a new booking with a different driver who picked her up a few minutes after the first finally cancelled.
She had always felt safe using Uber in the past but this recent incident has left her “feeling really wary.”
“I was running low on phone battery at the time, so it got me feeling very vulnerable and fearing I might be left stranded altogether.”
Other Londoners have reported similar situations, as well as turning on the app to find no drivers available.
Author and podcast host Pandora Sykes tweeted: “Is something big going on with Uber in London that I don’t know about? I’ve tried to get one twice in the last 10 days and it’s taken 15 mins and then cancelled on me - ditto for both people I was with?
“It’s fine if this is the end, but I just can’t seem to figure out why.”
A Twitter user called Uber Ramblings with the profile “Driver, whistle blowing ex-banker collecting additional chapters for my book”, claimed the spate of cancellations was down to competition from other ride-hailing apps.
They tweeted: “It’s due to the bonuses offered by Free Now and others to complete a set of six rides. Many drivers use two or more apps at the same time, so if a job comes in on those, and it counts towards the bonus payment, then the Uber ride is cancelled.”
The congestion charge is also a factor, they claimed, with drivers unable to tell whether the route to a customer’s destination goes through the congestion zone until accepting the booking.
Unwilling to pay the charge, they cancel the booking, leaving the customer high and dry, said the anonymous driver.
A spokesperson for Uber said: “As cities open up and people start moving again, we are encouraging 20,000 new drivers to sign up in order to meet rider demand.
“We are proud to offer every driver the rights and protections they deserve - a guaranteed wage, holiday pay and a pension - but we’re not the only player in town. Drivers work with multiple operators and deserve the same standard of work on every trip.”
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