Uber, a private car for hire service, has always lauded itself to be Kuala Lumpur's answer to a safe and reliable alternative to taxis
So far, Uber had been receiving positive reviews from its users until one girl shared this screenshot of an Uber driver texting her after hours
26-year-old actress, model, and radio announcer Daniella Sya booked a ride using the Uber app on 20 February 2015. There was nothing out of the ordinary during the 40-minute ride and she arrived at her destination safely.
Minutes after she placed a request for a ride, an Uber driver by the name of Eiman texted her to confirm her pick up address "Everything about the ride was fine, " says Daniella Sya, recounting the incident to SAYS.
Part of the booking process for Uber is that the app connects users directly to the driver. The driver will receive the passenger's handphone number and will contact the passenger to confirm the pick up time and location.
Two weeks later at 11.02pm on 3 March, Daniella received another text from the very same Uber driver. The message "Hi dear, :)" seems to be an attempt to start a private conversation with her.
Daniella was surprised to receive the unsolicited message as she did not make any requests for a ride. "I was puzzled. Then confusion, worry and frustration set in."
Daniella did not reply to the message.
Dainella felt that this was a violation of her privacy. She claims the driver had abused his authority and her personal details to get to know her. Most shocking of all, this is the seventh time it has happened to her.
"I've received a number of Uber drivers in the past who had sent me messages like these via SMS and Whatsapp. I would just block these numbers from getting through to my phone."
However, Daniella did not report these cases. The latest incident was the tipping point for her.
"It was incredibly silly and irresponsible move for me not to report those previous incidents. Ignoring it further allowed these people with the wrong intentions to be braver in their actions."
When Daniella shared her worrying experience on Facebook, several other women voiced out that they had also received inappropriate messages from their Uber drivers.
One female regular Uber Black passenger who wants to remain anonymous told SAYS that she was "creeped out" by her driver during her first time trying Uber X.
"When my Uber X driver sent me to Zouk Club KL, he mentioned that it might be hard to get Uber to return home later at night. He added that he should "hang around" KLCC area for Uber requests.
Around 2am, he texted me "Are you going home with your friends?"
I thought he was being thoughtful and I thanked him accordingly, but then he kept texting me. "Are you going home alone?" "Should I take you home?" "Are you partying with friends or what?"
He even mentioned that he would wait outside Zouk for me when I clearly did not ask him to do so. I ignored his messages until he stopped."
According to the Uber website, all drivers go through a rigorous background check as part of the company's commitment to providing the "safest rides on the road"
Concerned of her safety, Daniella reported the incident to Uber. However, she was left feeling disappointed at the "almost insincere" response to her complaint.
In the email response, Uber informed her that they have suspended the driver and are investigating the matter further. However, at the bottom of the email send-off were banner ads encouraging the reader to hire more drivers.
"I appreciate them suspending the driver, but this man already has my phone number in his possession. I think I would appreciate a list of initiatives that the company is trying to implement in an effort to curb this issue, rather than having a company link below their reply listing their latest offers and promotions to hire more drivers."
"There were no further promises made on what actions would be taken to ensure customer safety. This is, after all, a harassment case."
In Daniella Sya's Facebook post, a discussion about Uber protecting client information has emerged. A debate about Uber's safety has also surfaced with people discussing whether Uber is really safe or just providing a false sense of security as a marketing stunt.
One commenter advised Daniella not to get into an Uber cab once she received a message like that as with her name and phone number, the driver could have access to her personal information, social media accounts and such.
When asked about the issue, an Uber spokesperson told SAYS in an official statement that the driver in question had been immediately suspended pending investigation
"Our local team immediately followed up with the rider and remain in close touch to resolve the matter.
Uber has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate conduct and is absolutely committed to the safety and comfort of our riders. This is why we work tirelessly to ensure that everyone of the 1+ million rides we facilitate daily around the world is of the highest quality."
Daniella wants other women to be are aware that there are potential dangers to Uber
"It is for the public to be aware on the importance of safety, especially when a company markets and highlights that it is a safer alternative to other options available in the market."
Last December in New Delhi, India, a young women was allegedly raped by an Uber driver after falling asleep in the back of the car during the ride home