One thing most people would agree they don't want to hear their Uber driver saying is "No, I got this" in response to said driver going the wrong way on a New York expressway. Ditto in response to missing turns, going downtown instead of uptown, and erratically braking all while conducting personal biz in the front seat. Financial services employee Jaime Hessel knows this from personal experience.
Hessel, 32, said she used the service on March 28 expecting a routine trip from Leonard and Scholes streets in East Williamsburg to East 50th Street in Midtown, where was was taking part in a cancer fundraising event. Instead, she got a ride she'll never forget. "We get to Meeker Avenue and all of a sudden, the driver starts taking phone calls and checking his voicemails," said Hessel, who works in finance. "Then he started missing turns. He went right past McGuinness [Boulevard]. He went on the on-ramp to the BQE. Then he slammed on his brakes and starts going in reverse. I started freaking out saying, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'No, I got this.'"
After finally navigating his way to the Midtown Tunnel, the driver again seemed baffled. "He gets in the left lane to go downtown," Hessel said. "I said, 'Sir, we need to go uptown,' and he swerves back to the ride side and slammed on his brakes. He was really good with his brakes. I'll give him that." Once they finally landed in Manhattan, Hessel said the driver drove in the bus lane to try to make up time.
Having said that, if the ride of a lifetime were to be offered gratis, well, maybe people would roll with it. Chalk it up to an "only in New York" story you tell your friends about and also maybe get a kick out of on a particularly slow weeknight. For some, it might even be considered fun in a risky/exciting way. Being charged 5 figures for the experience? Less appealing!
When she finally reached her destination, she was hit with a $56.40 charge. She contested it with Uber, claiming it was only that expensive because of his ineptitude navigating city streets. Uber eventually took $15 off the fare, she said. But the real chaos unfolded Monday when she received an email saying she owed the company $12,000. "It freaked me out," she said. "I have bad eye sight and I thought maybe I wasn't reading it correctly. "I was emailing them and all they could give me was, 'We're looking into it,'" she said. "They said they had their 'tier two' agents looking into it, which means nothing to me. What is 'tier two' out of 1,000?" Uber later told her the charges were a mistake and they’d clear them from her account.