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Toronto woman claims house keys ‘held hostage’ by Uber driver

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GTA woman claims Uber driver held house keys ‘hostage’
WATCH: GTA woman claims Uber driver held house keys "hostage" – Jun 8, 2018

Petrina Blander felt a mild wave of panic sweep over her when she realized she had forgotten her key ring, holding her apartment keys and her uncle’s house keys, in the back of an Uber vehicle early Thursday afternoon.

But she thought she could at least use the ride-sharing app to try and get her keys back.

“[I] went to the app and contacted the driver through the app,” Blander said.

But she said she was shocked at what happened next.

“He insisted on cash compensation… and I was insisting I would meet him because I felt bad for his time and the inconvenience I was causing him. He was being very ambiguous, he didn’t want to meet me, calling me names and saying I was impatient.”

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Uber has a ‘lost item’ policy that asks the rider to pay a flat $15 fee through the app to have an item returned. The ride-sharing service’s website says the entire fee goes to the driver for their inconvenience.

Blander said the driver refused to go through the app — instead asking for $60 to get her keys back.

“He said he doesn’t trust Uber and doesn’t know what kind of cut they take,” she said.

READ MORE: Uber under fire after video surfaces of alleged assault on Calgary mother

What made matters worse was that her uncle’s 13-year-old dog was stuck inside his home and she had no way to access him.

“I said, ‘this dog is in my care, it’s not even about me anymore. I have to go,please help me, let me meet you somewhere, what can I do to help you,’ and it was just impossible,” said Blander.

Luckily, her uncle’s dogwalker had a spare key and let her in later that night — but not before her uncle’s canine was left hungry and unattended for for hours.

READ MORE: Calgary Uber driver removed from app after sending profanity-laced, sexual email to customer

“It was a relief,” said Blander. “I told him ‘I’m sorry’ and gave him a squeeze.”

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Blander’s boyfriend, Dhani Oks, also got involved. He called the driver directly and tried to find a solution to the problem.

“I was immediately struck by the fact that this guy is trying to extort her, trying to go around the system, and intimidate her,” said Oks, who was able to get the driver over the phone. “I said ‘you have the keys, how can I get them from you.’ And then basically, he launched into attacking my girlfriend.”

READ MORE: Toronto ride-sharing drivers say car seats becoming contentious issue with passengers

A few hours after Global News contacted Uber for answers, the ride-sharing company called Blander to say they’ve spoken to the driver and arranged to have her keys dropped off to her by another driver.

“It took 24 hours for this to happen, which is insane. I honestly don’t think Uber [cares] about their culture or the safety of their customers,” said Blander.

But now, Blander is wondering why it took more than 24 hours for Uber to find a solution to the problem, adding she felt the ride-sharing company didn’t address how intimidated she felt by the driver’s aggressive behaviour over the phone.

READ MORE: Self-driving Uber car saw pedestrian but didn’t brake, causing fatal accident: report

“It was awful, they were not helpful,” said Blander. “They asked if they could give the driver my personal contact information to then connect with me, which means they’re not actually getting what happened. This guy scared me and I don’t want him to have my personal information.”

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In a statement to Global News, Uber said trying to extort riders for extra money is against their community guidelines.

“We apologize for this rider’s poor experience. High quality customer service is something we strive for and we’re disappointed this standard wasn’t met here. We worked to resolve it and will take the appropriate action,” said Uber spokesperson Andrew Hasbun.

Uber also added it’s against their policy to “disclose to a reporting party about actions taken against a driver or rider,” but told Global News the ride-sharing company is investigating.

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