Uber may have instituted a $1 "Safe Rides Fee" in April, but its background checks remain trivial to get around. Now their lax standards have resulted in another kidnapping. This time, a scofflaw driver in Washington D.C. took a group of out-of-town visitors for a "wild ride."
According to The Washington Post, the incident began as Ryan Simonetti and two colleagues e-hailed an Uber outside a conference center.
As they approached their Uber car, they spotted a D.C. taxi inspector talking to the driver.
Simonetti got into the front seat and his colleagues got into the back seat. The inspector walked away. Thinking back, Simonetti suspects the inspector was going to check the documents the Uber driver had handed to him. Then, the Uber driver started driving down the street. The inspector turned his lights on and started to follow.
"That cop's following you. What's going on?" Simonetti said he asked the driver. He said the driver told him not to worry. "Oh no, he's not a real cop," the Uber driver replied. And then Simonetti said the driver then told them: "I'm sorry, we're going to have to run this red light."
— Ryan W Simonetti (@rwsimonetti) July 8, 2014
The driver then began speeding down the highway. "It was like an episode of 'Cops,'" Simonetti told the Post.
Simonetti hoped the driver would slow down and flee the vehicle, but instead continued the chase for "eight to ten minutes." The passengers also pleaded with the Uber driver, asking him to slow down enough for them to escape. However the driver refused to relent, claiming the taxi inspector would slap him with a $2,000 fine if caught.
"It was insane," Simonetti said. "I physically tried to force his leg to hit the brake. I ripped off his pant leg … I said, 'Here's two options. You take this exit, or I'm going to knock the side of your head in. If we crash, we crash, but you're gonna kill us anyway.'"
Ultimately, the Uber driver was blocked by the inspector on an off-ramp. Simonetti and their co-workers were able to escape before the driver turned around and drove against traffic back down the highway.
An Uber spokesman told the Post that the driver has been suspended from the service. The victims took a regular taxi to their destination.
We have reached out to Uber for comment and are waiting to hear back.