Uber driver Jonny Watkins was recently stopped by police while taking two University of Georgia students home and he thinks that stop led to an unfair allegation against him that cost him a weekend of fares.
It’s a problem that other Uber drivers face from passengers who want free rides, he said.
Watkins said he picked up the young women at about 3 a.m. and was traveling on East Campus Road when he was pulled over by a UGA police officer.
“I’m not blaming the cop that stopped me. He was a nice guy and he said, ‘I thought you were driving a little slow and that’s what we look for,’” Watkins recalled.
“When the girls got back home, they got a free ride by calling Uber and telling them I was drinking. Uber, without any proof, took me off line for two days. I missed all the money from the Georgia game,” said Watkins, who has been driving for Uber for about nine months and has handled about 3,000 rides during this time.
Passengers are able to pay with credit cards, so the charges are forgiven if Uber sides with the passenger, according to Watkins.
“These kids think they are getting a free ride, but they don’t realize how much damage they can do,” he said. “My family lives in a motel and we have to pay every day.”
Watkins also explained they often go beyond just giving rides to college students, many who have been out late drinking.
Not only do they leave cell phones in the car, they vomit in the car, slam the doors and sometimes he has to help them to their door due to their inebriated condition.
“You’ve got 20-year-olds and 19-year-olds at 4 o’clock in the morning and they are so drunk anything can happen,” he said.
He recalled responding to one call and a person there kept telling him to wait, but after an extended period, they didn’t want the ride, but apologized and offered to pay him for his time.
“The next day they called Uber and said, ‘Because technically I didn’t get in the car, I don’t think I should pay.’ That’s the kind of stuff we deal with,” he said.