I Was Banned From Uber And They Won't Tell Me Why

It wasn’t always like this. This rift between Uber and I. In fact, for a long time we were inseparable. There were the late nights, the early mornings, the frantic commutes, the trouble-free trips to the airport—OHHH, those trips to the airport. But that was all before Uber donned the proverbial brass knuckles and decided to sucker punch me square in the gut. You see, Uber disabled my account without explanation, ending our blissful years-long relationship out of the blue. And what an ugly breakup it was.

Uber, all I want to know is this: what happened? I was kind, I was loyal, and I deserve an explanation.

First, allow me take you back to the good times, before the incident...two years ago I signed myself up for Uber after listening to friends and colleagues jabber on about how great the on-demand car service is. “You can hail a cab from your phone!” “It’s the best way to get around Brooklyn at night!” “It’s the cheapest ride to the airport!" “They give you bottles of water and candy!”

As it turned out, I found all of these things to be true once I joined, and fell hard and fast in love with Uber. Whipping out my phone to request a car home from a late dinner or night out became as much a part of my muscle memory as checking Instagram or email. I had become one of the obnoxious proselytizers myself. No longer would I need to physically hail a cab, and I was more than OK with that.

"Uber donned the proverbial brass knuckles and sucker punched me square in the gut."

Of course, like any couple, we had a hiccup or two. There was an instance when a driver accidentally charged me twice for the same ride. However, when I noticed and raised my concern to their support staff the following day, I heard back almost immediately via email from a lovely customer service rep who apologized profusely and arranged for a prompt refund. I was quick to tell my friends how helpful they were. “Isn’t Uber awesome?!” Well it’s been over five months since we had our last encounter, and I’d be lying if I didn’t think about "us" all the time. 

I first discovered I was blocked from signing in to my account this past December while visiting my sister in Chicago. It was a particularly frigid evening in the Windy City and I tried requesting a trip back to her apartment after a group dinner. “Your account has been disabled. Please contact support@uber.com for a prompt resolution” is what popped up instead of one of the normal ride request screens. What? Why? I’d used my account the day before to request a car to NYC's LaGuardia to catch my flight out. What happened between then and now? Had I done something wrong? I fired off a polite email to find out what was up. 

While waiting for my response, I started trying to figure out where I could have gone wrong. I’ve never spewed all over some poor driver’s back seat, or snuck a cigarette. I’ve never cursed out or assaulted a driver. I wasn’t running a small-time drug ring by enlisting Ubers as delivery vehicles. Hell, the only time I ever had to cancel a request, the driver wasn’t even in my general vicinity! My record was spotless.

It wasn't long before I received a bewildering reply from a rep I'll call "Nicki." The reason for my ban was “related to [my] use of a fraudulent device.” This naturally had me asking myself, "what the fuck is a fraudulent device?" Did Uber find out I illegally downloaded OMC’s “How Bizarre” from KaZaa and threw it on my 2nd-gen iPod ten years ago? Unlikely. My iPhone was assuredly genuine and I’ve never used my account anywhere else. I was stumped. 

"What the fuck is a fraudulent device?"

Nicki went on to tell me I was in violation of their Terms of Service. Confused, I asked her to explain and expand on what exactly a “fraudulent device” is. I demanded an explanation and even requested the issue be escalated to a manager or supervisor so I could understand exactly what I was being punished for. Instead, I was stonewalled in a series of carefully worded responses. Frustratingly, she declared that even disclosing any further information would somehow be a violation of their Privacy Policy. There was no getting through.

Calling out Uber for being sh*tty is, of course, nothing new. Their explosive international growth has come with a glut of bad press. There have been the alleged sexual assaults and kidnappings, the blatant robbery attempts, and the price surging scandals. To imagine my relatively insignificant personal suspension would be anything more than a blip on their radar is ludicrous. However, it was. It was enough to outright ban me, ignore my pleas for clarification, and cut off communication with me, seemingly indefinitely.

Uber, what happened? Why won't you talk to me? I know it’s been months since we’ve been in touch, but we had something really great going on. Isn't there a way to start fresh? I miss you. And sure, my friends tell me to move on. "Try Lyft" they say. But it's just not the same. I miss being able to hail you from my phone in the middle of Bushwick at 3 a.m. on a Saturday. I miss being able to listen to MY music when we're stuck in traffic. I miss your fun on-demand ice cream and strange-but-adorable puppy promotions. But mostly, Uber, I miss the candy. Please call. I'll be waiting by the phone.

Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor with a very first-world problem.

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