Warning: Wear a mask or get banned from Uber — guaranteed!

This rider just got banned from Uber for refusing to wear a mask during the pandemic.

Adrianna Allen just got banned from Uber for refusing to wear a mask while using the ridesharing service. She says she’s been falsely accused and has worn a face-covering during all her trips throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Now Allen wants the Elliott Advocacy team to ask why Uber banned her, and also get her premium membership reinstated. But with three separate drivers reporting her for refusing to wear a mask, that seems like a tall order.

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Can we figure out what’s going on here? (Reprint)

Uber: “We received feedback regarding your facemask during your recent trip”

One night last fall, Allen called for an Uber as she frequently did. She says the ride was uneventful, but she received an unusual email from the company several hours later. The subject line read: “We received feedback regarding your facemask during your recent trip.”

Allen says the information in the message took her entirely by surprise.

It said that all Uber drivers and riders must wear a face covering because of the coronavirus. Apparently, my driver reported me for not wearing a mask during the ride. I had no idea why he would say that since my mask literally covers half my face.

After reading through the email, Allen picked up the phone and called Uber Premium support.

“I explained that the driver had falsely accused me,” Allen reported. “The agent was pleasant and she said to send a photo of me in my mask before my next ride.”

Allen said she had no problem with that requirement and thought Uber had settled the issue.

Unfortunately, Allen’s curious situation with Uber was just getting started.

Uber’s pandemic warning: “You must wear a mask at all times during your ride.”

A few days later, Allen took a selfie with her mask on and called for an Uber. She hopped into the car and was on her way. As happened the last time, later that evening, she received a warning with the same subject line.

Uber sends warnings to riders who have a mask problem.

A second warning: “All riders and drivers are required to wear a face cover or mask when using Uber.

Allen called Uber again and explained that she received two separate false accusations of not wearing a mask.

“I told the agent that I had sent the proof to Uber that I was wearing a mask,” Allen reported. “That person told me that their team would investigate and that it would take no action against my account.”

After the phone call, Allen received another message from the Uber premium support team. By the tone of the email, she assumed that Uber was closing the matter in her favor.

We truly appreciate you as one of our premium riders, Adriana. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you. Enjoy the rest of your week. (Uber Premium support to Allen)

Three strikes and now you’re banned from Uber for not wearing a mask

Unfortunately, those accolades did not prevent Allen from getting banned from Uber just a few days later.

Allen called for an Uber. She took a selfie and showed herself in her mask. Uber approved the car and it soon arrived.

This time though, Allen says things went wrong right away inside the car.

Allen says she opened the door and got into the Uber. Immediately, Allen says the driver started accusing her of not wearing a mask.

This driver was so rude and he was yelling that he’s not moving. He said if I don’t have a mask, he won’t move. I literally had to take my mask off and show him. Mind you, I still had to take another Uber that same day and he flagged me and I called and complained while I was outside.

That same evening, Allen received the verdict from Uber that she was banned.

If you refuse to wear a mask, you will be banned from Uber

Uber will remove your account access if it determines you're not wearing a mask.
If three Uber drivers say you aren’t wearing a mask during the pandemic, you’ll be banned.

The third driver to accuse Allen of not wearing a mask during her Uber ride put her on the official blacklist. But Allen says she was bewildered by the accusations.

Allen tried to appeal her case, but now she found the Uber agents to be unresponsive. When she tried to use the Uber app, it informed her that she was no longer able to use the service.

After an internet search about Uber problems, Allen found Elliott Advocacy and she sent her strange story to our team.

Asking Elliott Advocacy to investigate this Uber mystery

When I opened our email box early one morning, Allen’s plight caught my eye. One of her opening lines in her narrative was this:

I actually had to take my mask off at one point and show the driver I had my mask on because for some reason he could not see I had it on.

I also wondered why three separate Uber drivers could not see her mask. So I asked Allen to send me a photo of this hard-to-see mask.

There must be something odd about this mask if multiple drivers have complained about it. Can you send me a photo of it? (Michelle to Allen)

Allen was happy to comply. Unfortunately, I was as confused as the Uber drivers when she sent me the photo.

The unusual mask this Uber rider says she always wears -- the one that apparently got her banished from the car sharing service.
What kind of mask is this?

I tried to picture how this piece of cloth would be worn as a protective face covering, but try as I might I couldn’t. I asked Allen what I was looking at.

“It’s a mask/scarf. This is how it looks when worn,” Allen told me.

The unusual face covering that this Uber rider uses during the pandemic.
Is the unusual design of this “mask” the source of this rider’s Uber problems?

When I took a look at what appeared to be the very sheer and loose-fitting material on the scarf, I thought we may have discovered the root of the problem. In order for a mask to be protective, it must fit securely around the nose and mouth. I wasn’t sure this face-covering quite fit the bill.

I decided to send Allen’s complaint over to our executive Uber contact to get some clarification. Minimally, I thought their team might be able to provide some guidance about the type of masks that are acceptable for Uber riders and drivers.

Is this Uber customer banned from your service permanently for not using a mask?

Hi ****,

We have one of your Uber Premium customers here who just got banned from the platform because some driver (it looks like possibly three!) reported her for not wearing a mask. She says she always wears a mask and isn’t sure why this is happening. Could you see if your team could take a look at her complaint and determine if this is an error on Uber’s side OR if she, in fact, hasn’t been wearing a mask (properly) on multiple rides? Thank you! (Michelle to Uber)

Over several weeks, our executive Uber resolution team thoroughly investigated Allen’s complaint. The fact that she has been a premium Uber customer caused the team to look particularly close at her case.

However, in the end, Uber is standing by its drivers in this situation.

Uber’s official statement: If you won’t wear a mask, don’t try to take an Uber during the pandemic

Michelle, hi!

Sorry for the delayed response! Thank you for following up. In terms of this case, the team reviewed the user’s issue and reached out and took the appropriate action. I’m unable to disclose more information due to our privacy policy. That said, it sounds like the user wasn’t satisfied with the response. I’ll have the team reach back out to see if there is something more to be done.

In terms of the other request regarding the face-covering policy, over 99% of trips have no reported mask issues since implementing this policy in May. We take action every time we receive a complaint, including sending warnings and COVID safety education. We have removed repeat violators from the platform. (Uber to Michelle)

The Uber executive team also provided the link that explains the company’s mask requirements during the pandemic.

The bottom line: Uber is standing with its drivers

It’s true that our team receives a certain number of requests for help that contain some “fibs.” We know that — and I think each of us has a pretty accurate shenanigans detector. Of course, the fact that three separate drivers reported Allen for refusing to wear a mask raised my suspicions that we weren’t getting the full story. Especially when I learned that two of the three cars she rode in had cameras.

During the pandemic we’ve heard from more than a handful of consumers who don’t see the value in wearing masks.

But we’ve also received pleas for help from consumers who fully support mask requirements during the pandemic — even if it ruins their important plans.

I don’t think our regular readers will be surprised to know that our team comes down on the side of caution. We want our readers to protect themselves and others. Masks are recommended for every public activity in the United States during the pandemic according to the CDC — especially as we enter an upswing in COVID-19 cases.

So if we detect that someone might be asking us to assist them in circumventing these policies, we won’t be able to help. But Allen’s case was a real head scratcher since she wasn’t claiming to be against the mask policy. Her assertion was that three separate uber drivers failed to be able to see her mask.

Make sure that your mask is an approved type of mask

I gave Allen the final results from Uber’s executive resolution team about her case (Ps. Here are our executive contacts for Uber, if you find yourself with a problem with the company). The company was standing by the reports from its drivers that Allen was refusing to wear a mask during her rides (or not wearing it properly).

But I continued to be confused about Allen’s claim that she always wore her mask during every ride. I hate to see anyone being falsely accused of anything.

So I looked over the picture of Allen’s mask again.

I know you said that mask is a scarf/mask. I can’t tell from the picture, but it’s possible that the material is just too thin (it seems quite sheer) — you may want to get a more traditional type of mask if you move to another ride service since more than one driver reported this mask as not being a mask at all. Something is obviously wrong with that particular mask’s function since three separate drivers reported you to Uber. Our Uber contact will be reaching out to you soon. If you don’t want to be permanently banned from Uber, you will need to convince them that you’re correcting the problem. Getting a more traditional mask — maybe a brightly colored one — could help. (Michelle to Allen)

Allen says she will consider my last recommendation to get a brightly colored traditional mask. It’s unclear where the disconnect is in this case, but one thing is clear: You’ll need to properly wear an approved mask on your Uber ride or — even if you’re a premium rider — you’ll get banned.

Tips for traveling on public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic

  • In the United States, masks are required on public transportation
    Whether or not you’re on board with the scientific guidance about the benefits of wearing a mask, you’ll need to comply with the public health requirements to wear a mask for the time being.
  • A sheer scarf is not a mask
    Wrapping a scarf around your face to climb into an Uber will not cut it. Uber drivers are risking their health every time they pick up a customer. Do your part and make sure you’re wearing a traditional mask that protects you and your driver.
  • Masks with vents do not protect others
    You also can’t wear a mask with any valves or slits that allow your breath to be expelled. This defeats the purpose of a mask. Only wear a traditional cloth mask that fits around your nose and mouth and does not have an exhaust valve.
  • Plastic face guards are not acceptable
    One last thing to remember, plastic face shields that cover your entire face are not acceptable as protection on airlines or with Uber.

We’re all hoping that soon we can all get vaccinated and we’ll be able to put our masks in a drawer and start planning our new adventures for 2021!! Stay safe, friends! 🙂