“Get there. Your day belongs to you.” That’s Uber’s motto, written boldly across their homepage, assuring customers that they will reach their destinations. But for Mumbai’s Amit Mehta (33) and Christine D’souza (26), the only place it landed them in was a hospital. But three days after they were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle, they are still to receive a call from Uber’s emergency response team.
Amit Mehta at his residence in Bandra (right) Christine surrounded by her dear ones at the hospital. Pic/Prabhanjan Dhanu
On Friday, the duo booked an Uber cab from Sakinaka to Jacob’s Circle for a meeting. Mehta told mid-day, “The driver (Gangaram Ugale) was driving rashly. On the last flyover, before Phoenix Mall, the driver swerved right in order to overtake the vehicle in front of us, and by doing so, crashed head-on into a Maruti Zen.”
“My body was pushed forward with the force of the impact and I ducked instinctively. I looked at Christine next to me on the back seat, there was blood everywhere, and a part of her scalp on the right had detached itself from the skull.”
Mehta and Gangaram rushed D’souza to Wockhardt Hospital in Mahalaxmi.
What’s shocking, though, is Uber’s response when he sent them an email, saying he had just been in an accident in one of their vehicles and that his friend was in an emergency at the hospital. “I sent Uber my emergency mail at 4.15 pm, saying they should call me,” said Mehta. “But at 6 pm, I got a response via mail saying as per their company policy, they are not allowed to call clients, and that I must convey whatever it is over email.”
The following day, Mehta sent Uber a detailed email at 6.20 am. When he didn’t receive a response till 6 pm, Mehta decided to turn to social media. “After about an hour of me putting up details of the accident on Facebook, I finally got a call from Uber. However, this person belonged to the company’s social media team, and not their emergency response team,” he said.
On Sunday, Uber’s corporate communication team responded to Mehta’s Facebook post. “I am so sorry for what has happened; I cannot even imagine what you must be going through. But, I’m glad we spoke and we are here to help you out in any and every way possible. I wish Christine nothing but the best of health,” said Neeti Nayak, corporate communications, Uber.
“Since we’re unable to respond to your status update, from the Uber India page, due to Facebook’s policy restrictions, the team has emailed you with all the information you’ve asked for. We’re here to support you through the entire process.”
The same day, Mehta received a second call from Uber, again from the social media desk. Upon enquiring why the emergency response team was not calling him, instead, he was told that the “emergency services team had escalated the matter to the social media team as they felt it was a good opportunity for Uber to make up for the blunder as the story had now gone viral.”
A livid Mehta said, “You cannot write on your website that you have a 24x7 emergency response team, and that you care about your clients’ safety, but at the same time, read an email from your client that says he is in a critical situation and respond by saying we cannot call you.”
D’souza is currently recovering at home. She said, “Both Uber and the driver should be held accountable and responsible for this incident. Did Uber check his driving record before contacting him? What are the company’s screening policies for its drivers?”
As of yesterday, Mehta and D’souza still haven’t received a call from the company’s emergency response team.
‘Sunlight in my eyes’
Ugale said ,“As I was driving on the bridge near Phoenix Mall, the sunlight came directly into my eyes and blinded me. I couldn’t see anything in the front. That’s when the accident happened.”
‘Rider did not press SOS button on app’
An Uber spokesperson said over email, “Yes, the Incident Response Team is aware of this situation. The rider did not press the Help/SOS function. He sent an email to our Support ID, and the response he got did not appropriately address the email. But since the City Emergency Team and the Social Operations Response Team took this up, they were leading this communication in order to maintain a single point of contact for the rider to take matters to resolution. All necessary teams have been in the loop and we have been in constant touch with the rider, providing our response to the situation and offering assistance.”