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Important 15:15 24 Sep 2021

"I'm on the road and I'm in trouble": what to do when you're unlucky with BlaBlaCar

The BlaBlaCar travel resource has long helped travelers. A few clicks in the application and you see a list of trips to almost any point or at any time. Convenient, cheap, and often with air conditioning! However, remember that you get in the car to strangers.

Rubryka tells the stories of BlaBlaCar users and advises how not to repeat them on your trips.

About "no seats," or "well, what can I tell you?"

Six in the morning. Shopping mall parking. A car booked the day before had to come here 15 minutes ago to pick me up to go to Lviv. I call the driver, introduce myself and ask where he is. In response, I hear the name of a completely different city, from which it takes a good hour and a half to get here.

"And how did it happen? You should've picked me up already. Why such a delay?"

"Well, what can I tell you?"

And then silence, so it's probably OK. I decide to wait. Another woman is shifting from foot to foot nearby. It turned out that she booked the same BlaBlaCar.

The driver arrives in an hour and a half. Sleepy people get out of the minibus and go to the toilet together. My companion looks in the middle of the car and says anxiously:

"It will be fun if, besides being late, we don't have enough seats."

I answer that it can not be true. And in about 10 minutes I shout at the driver. And he, instead of explaining why he has one instead of the reserved two seats, only says:

"Well, what can I tell you?"

Another BlaBlaCar user, Iryna Vasiukhnyk, talks about a similar situation. Together with the boyfriend, she had to leave Kyiv for Lutsk, but the trip didn't go according to plan.

"We booked the car at 11:30 pm. The dispatcher called back and confirmed the order, two seats. At 11:15 I called the driver to ask if he was already there. He picked up the phone, I could hear that he was already on the road, but it was unclear where he was going. I asked if he was somewhere on location, that they had booked a BlaBlaCar. The driver asked how many of us there were. I answered that there were two. And, attention, the driver said: I only have one seat left," the woman says.

Why is it happening?

BlaBlaCar is designed so that drivers planning a trip can take a passenger and thus save money while having pleasant company on the road. And for passengers, the advantage of the resource is that they're less limited in choosing the affordable price, time, and place of departure than when using buses or trains.

But many drivers are turning such joint trips into business. In particular, they create several accounts, where they open reservations for one trip. In such cases, passengers may run out of space for two reasons. Either the carrier was banally confused and made a mistake, or "reinsured" by taking an extra passenger in case someone refuses to go and, accordingly, will not pay.

What should I do in this situation?

  • If the dispatcher calls you instead of the driver, it's most likely the scheme described above. Keep that in mind.
  • Pay attention to the feedback from other passengers. Passengers usually talk about dishonest or irresponsible drivers.
  • If you still don't have enough space or have any other trouble, leave a complaint to the driver on the resource. This should be done as soon as possible so that the carrier doesn't have time to cancel the trip.

"Plans have changed. In the middle of the night. Near Zhytomyr"

And there are situations when the lack of free space can, on the contrary, protect against a more negative experience. It convinced Iryna Hoiuk when she and her colleague were trying to get to Kyiv by BlaBlaCar. The woman told about the trip, which had turned out to be dangerous, on Facebook.

"We booked the same BlaBlaCar. The driver canceled the trip but assured us by phone that it would happen, he just had some technical problems. Well, ok.

We came to the meeting place and departed. Three hours went normally. Then there was a stop at the gas station. The driver left for 10 minutes. He returned, sat down, we continued the trip.

Ten minutes later, Aliona wrote to me in the messenger:

'Don't you think that the driver behaves as strangely as possible? He staggers constantly, pulls the steering wheel, bites his nails, rubs his eyes. Watch.'

And, hell, Aliona was right," Iryna writes.

At the next gas station, the passengers got out and called the police. They explained the situation, indicated the car number, and warned that they were afraid to go back. But they still had to leave the gas station. When Iryna and Aliona returned, neither the driver nor the car was seen.

"We just stood at the entrance for five minutes. And then we saw the same driver: he just passed by without recognizing us. And we realized that the driver drove a little, but didn't leave us. We returned to the car, told other passengers about our assumptions, took our things, and went to look for other ways to get to Kyiv.

The driver started writing to us that we had played him. Aliona asked for a card number so that we could transfer the money, she said that our plans had changed. In the middle of the night. Near Zhytomyr," Iryna tells.

In the end, they managed to find another driver with whom the women went to Kyiv. And on the way, says Iryna, they saw their first driver stopped by the police.

What should I do in this situation?

  • Just in case, write down the license plates of the car before the trip, send them to a person who knows about your trip, and in case of trouble, they will call the police.
  • If you notice inappropriate driver behavior before the trip, cancel the trip and warn of the potential danger to other passengers.
  • Call the police in case of trouble.
  • Leave a complaint to the driver.

Increased danger, or how to protect women

The danger that affects mainly women should be mentioned separately. These include rape and other types of physical assault. Judging by the number of such stories that have become public, there are few of them. But the key thing is the fact of their presence, not quantity.

In 2019, a 51-year-old driver raped a passenger in the Cherkasy region. On the way, the man treated the woman to coffee, after which she felt weak and drowsy.

The victim's friend who told about a crime on social media writes:

"He started threatening her with rape and flaunting his contacts with the district police, saying that she wouldn't do anything to him. Barely conscious after coffee, a friend began to write to her boyfriend that she was in danger and send her geolocation every few kilometers. Not having waited for the woman to lose consciousness, the BlaBlaCar driver took her to the forest and raped her."

What should I do in this situation?

  • When you're going on the road, warn someone close to you so that at the approximate time of your arrival they'll check if you're all right and if not, call the police.
  • If you suspect that you're in danger, pretend that you urgently need to go to the toilet and ask the driver to stop at the nearest gas station. There you can ask for help from employees or contact law enforcement.
  • Share your geolocation with a loved one.
  • Before leaving, don't leave all things in the trunk of the car, take a handbag, backpack, or fanny bag to the salon, where you will have, for example, a pepper gun.
  • When choosing who to go with, read the reviews of other passengers and, if possible, choose trips where there are other passengers.

Remember that unpleasant experiences of others are not a guarantee of unsuccessful travels for you. However, be prepared for different situations and know how to act in case of danger.

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