Hyderabad: Uber driver Srikanth was happy to fulfill his vow and have darshan of deity at Tirupati. He tonsured his head at Devasthanam after fulfilling his wish and started his return journey home to Hyderabad.

His happiness however turned into gloom when he was unable to log in to Uber partner account on February 27. He took a selfie and tried to login in repeatedly, but to no avail. On his fourth attempt, he was barred from signing in.

"I went to Tirupati to fulfill my vow. I also tonsured my head. When I came back and tried to login into my Uber account, I was blocked as the app couldn't recognize me with tonsured head," said Srikanth.

The next day Srikanth went to the Uber office to register his grievance. "The Uber official told me that I have to hire another person than only my car can roll out. I can't afford another driver. It's been over a month and I have visited the office several times, Uber officials told me to take up the issue with higher authority. They gave me an email to register my grievance, but the matter is lingering on. They are still insisting on having another driver," said Srikanth.

Srikanth, who has been working with Uber for over 1.5 years, holds a 4.67-star rating for 1428 trips.

"Driving is the only source of his daily income. He has to pay EMI for his car. During the lockdown, drivers were rendered jobless. There are several instances when algorithm can't recognize a driver's face," said Shaik Salauddin, general Secretary of Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers.

Shaik Salauddin noted that there should be better grievance mechanisms for drivers like him. "Many times, some name appears on the newspaper. The company immediately blocks these drivers without any reason. If I am Salauddin and someone in Delhi has done something, I will be blocked from their platform. So there are several issues with these drivers which should be resolved ," said Shaik Salauddin

Shaik Salauddin said that the platform should ensure that a person like Srikanth should not go through such hardships.

Update: Uber India in the statement said Srikanth had visited an Uber Partner Seva Kendra when he was unable to log in and it was communicated to him that his access to the app had been removed due to repeated violations of our community guidelines, which set the highest possible safety standards on our platform.

"Uber's facial comparison tool is capable of detecting natural changes in a person's appearance such as long or cropped hair. In case drivers face a problem logging in due to any technical issue with the selfie verification process, they have the option to visit the nearest Uber Partner Seva Kendra for a manual review of their profile," said Uber Spokesperson.

Sumit Jha

Sumit Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with NewsMeter. An alumnus of the University of Hyderabad and Amity University. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also a contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, consumer, health, human interest and data stories. You can follow Sumit on Twitter @sumitjha__

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