A major rideshare service has come down hard on a driver after a passenger feared she could be the victim of a shocking crime.
A major rideshare company has permanently suspended one of its Melbourne drivers after investigating a passenger’s abduction complaint
Julie Liu, 26, detailed her “terrifying” experience on social media last month where she claimed her DiDi driver was attempting to abduct her.
The lone passenger was in the back of Mazda3 when her driver led her 20 minutes away from her pinned destination in Melbourne’s inner-north on October 23.
Fearing she was being abducted, she demanded the driver pull over, and was left stranded on a busy freeway.
The driver was temporarily suspended as soon as the passenger formally complained, with DiDi and police launching an investigation into the incident.
This week, a DiDi spokesman said it moved to suspend the driver’s account permanently, with “no intentions of lifting this suspension in the foreseeable future”.
Ms Liu booked in a short 15-minute trip from Brunswick to Richmond to see her friends on that Saturday night to celebrate the end of Melbourne’s lockdown.
She was assigned the Mazda3 and entered the vehicle just after 6pm.
But then things started to go wrong.
“He starts driving and it’s chill, we’re driving through Fitzroy and he takes a few wrong turns and says ‘oh I’m so sorry I don’t know what’s been happening today I’ve just made a few mistakes’ and I said that’s all good,” she said.
“But then we end up on the motorway and bearing in mind that it’s a 15-minute journey and when he was saying he was taking wrong turns, half an hour had gone by and we were still in Fitzroy.”
Ms Liu suggested the driver was going the wrong way, but he continued on.
She then suggested to the driver he was going the wrong way, but he again apologised and mentioned he had made some mistakes throughout the day.
He then said he would cancel the trip without any charge but continued to drive away from the destination.
“I’m looking at his phone and his maps keeps telling him to exit the motorway and he’s in the right most lane and he stayed in the right most lane the whole time,” Ms Liu said.
Forty minutes passed, triggering the frazzled passenger to phone her sister for help.
“I start freaking out because anything I say to him he can’t give me a clear answer back as to where we’re going,” she said.
“I’m on the phone to her and he realises, he tries to calm me down because I’m crying and freaking out and he’s like ‘oh sister, sister it’s fine don’t worry I’ll get you to where you need to go’.
“My sister’s like ‘Julie you need to get out of the car’ and so I said ‘can you please let me out’ because my door was locked as well.”
The driver pulled over into the emergency lane and Julie got out of the car via the opposite car door, but then she claimed the driver tried to coerce her back inside the vehicle.
“He said ‘here’s my phone talk to my friend they’ll tell you that you can come with me’,” Ms Liu said.
“It was awful because I feel like if I didn‘t say anything he would have just kept driving.
“I was literally standing on the side of the motorway for 20 minutes and it just was the most terrifying experience and I’m just so glad nothing happened.”
DiDi assured the safety of its entire passenger community was “always paramount”.
“All passengers should feel safe and respected during their trip and we will continue our steadfast mission to maximise the safety of our platform for the wellbeing of our riders and drivers,” a spokesman said.
Victoria Police has been contacted for comment.