A cancer survivor whose illness left her with a speech impediment claims an Uber driver dragged her out of his cab because she ‘wasn’t talking properly’.
Sam Barbic, who has a hole in her neck, said the driver screamed at her and grabbed her arm to pull her from his vehicle outside her home in London.
The 45-year-old said she was then charged £5 for the cancelled journey, leaving her ‘baffled’ and ‘horrified’ by the experience, which Uber has pledged to investigate.
Sam Barbic said the driver screamed at her and grabbed her arm to pull her from his vehicle outside her home in London
The operation – a laryngectomy – saw her voice box removed, meaning she now speaks softly, with long pauses, by pressing against the hole in her airway.
Sam, 45, from Kensal Rise, said: ‘I got the standard Uber text saying he had arrived, so I went downstairs to find him. I walked round the corner and saw the car but he drove off.
‘So I called him – the first thing I always say is that I have had an operation, please bear with me.
‘I have had a total laryngectomy from throat cancer so my voice is faint with lots of pauses and very gravelly.
‘He kept saying he couldn’t hear me and hanging up. I rang him three times asking him to come back and pick me up.’
Sam was diagnosed with cancer five years ago and had her entire throat removed and replaced with parts of her intestine
Sam then saw there was a function on Uber to text the driver so messaged him explaining she had had a throat operation and could he come back to pick me up.
She added: ‘I then got in the car and asked him why he had driven off. He immediately said: “Get out of the car, I’m not driving you”.
‘I was stunned. I asked what the problem was and explained I had had throat cancer and that was why my voice was funny.
‘He just kept saying: “Get out the car, get out of the car now”. The more I tried to explain to him the more he insisted I get out.
‘He then got out of the car and opened the passenger door screaming at me to get out. I went to get out of the car and he took hold of my arm to ensure I got out of the car.
‘He then drove straight off leaving me standing there. I was in a terrible state, in shock, horrified at how I’d been treated and baffled as to why.
‘I no longer breathe through my nose or mouth and have a hole in my neck where I breathe. I wear a plaster over this so it is very clear to anyone I have had surgery.
‘I used to wear a scarf but I find people respond better when they can see I have a problem than when I try to hide it.’
Sam said: ‘The only thing I was thankful for was that I was outside my flat and not stranded in the middle of nowhere trying to get home.
‘I emailed Uber a complaint about him and got an automated reply saying the matter was resolved. They also charged me £5 for cancelling the fare.
‘They have since called me saying they are extremely concerned about the incident but I missed the call. When I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through.
‘I had extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy but was told my only option for survival was a total laryngectomy.
‘This involved removing my entire throat and building me a new throat with my intestine.
Sam, who works as a set designer, was hoping to travel to Covent Garden to meet a friend when the incident allegedly occurred at around 6.45pm on Thursday
‘My voice box was removed as part of the surgery and I spent one year unable to speak at all, but following further surgery had a small valve installed which enabled me to talk.
‘In order to speak I have to press the hole in my neck to block the airway and send air into my mouth so I can make sounds.
‘My speech is understandable but takes a bit of time to get used to as I have to pause for breath a lot.
‘It’s not very loud and I’ve been told I sound a bit like Darth Vader, but I’m hardly threatening. I’m a short middle-aged woman.’
An Uber spokesman said: ‘We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Sam. We’re looking into this as a matter of urgency.
‘We’re waiting to speak to all parties so we can fully investigate this incident and take the appropriate action.’
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