Wellington Uber driver stood down after allegedly hitting on 15-year-old girl
Another woman has come forward after an Uber driver was stood down amid claims that he "hit on" a 15-year-old girl.
Police confirmed the girl told them late on Thursday that the driver had asked for her number, mentioned he was finishing work soon, and suggested they hang out.
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She did not want to lay an official complaint, but police still spoke to the driver, who apologised and said he did not mean to cause any offence.
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Uber, an international app-based ride-hailing service, had also been notified.
A spokeswoman said the company was looking into the incident and it had removed the driver from Uber "while we investigate further".
She refused to say whether the driver had been subject to other complaints, citing "rider and driver privacy".
"We take rider and driver feedback seriously and will investigate if we receive a report of inappropriate behaviour."
Uber does not give customers' numbers to drivers. It anonymises riders' and drivers' numbers so neither has the other's personal contact details.
A friend of the 15-year-old posted about the incident on Facebook, saying the driver "forced" her to give him her number "to the point she thought he wouldn't let her out if she didn't".
He called her repeatedly and said he was "off clock and could come in", the friend said.
The posting drew replies from hundreds of people, at least four of whom claimed they had also been harassed by the same driver. One claimed to have reported him previously to Uber.
One claimed he told them he was "horny" and regularly contacted her, demanding they "hang out".
A 21-year-old complained to the company after getting a ride with the same driver from Wellington Railway Station to Mt Victoria on New Year's Eve.
She said she had given the driver the benefit of the doubt but had decided to complain to the company, and downgrade her rating of him, after seeing similar stories posted by other young women online.
"I didn't realise he was a serial creeper," the woman said.
"My first impression was that he was a clean-cut guy. He was wearing a collared shirt and cologne and was super chatty but not in a creepy way."
But his mood turned frosty after repeated attempts to get her phone number were rejected.
She then asked him if he tried to get the number of every young woman who rode in his car. "He said no – you're special."
Once she was dropped off, she got a male friend to come out and told the driver the man was her boyfriend.
She and her friend then stood outside the apartment block as the driver, who looked annoyed, sat there before driving past them, then back again before leaving.
"He was abusing his position and you kind of felt trapped in the car," she said.
New Zealand Taxi Federation executive director Roger Heale said every passenger should feel safe when paying for a ride.
The fact the complaint was made public via social media showed "a failure in the system and highlights the need for clear, prescriptive regulation on all operators in New Zealand".
A police spokeswoman could not comment on other Uber incidents, but said people should contact police if there had been any.
Uber drivers were subject to the same licensing rules as taxi drivers and other passenger services, she said.
NZTA did not have details of complaints it had received about Uber, which operated in effect as a booking agent for individual drivers, who were seen as private hire services.
"As such, the drivers are all required to hold passenger endorsements on their drivers licences, are subject to driving hour limits and are required to keep logbooks that record their driving hours."
The driver could not be reached for comment.
WHAT IS UBER?
• A service that allows people to use an app to book a ride from motorists who are not taxi drivers.
• Taxi companies are not fans as Uber does not have to adhere to usual taxi regulations, so cars don't have security cameras or drivers registered with the Approved Taxi Organisation.