Aussie mum banned from using Uber because of her name

Despite the mother being able use her name on her driver's licence and Australian citizenship certificate without any dramas, Uber deemed it too offensive.

Uber has apologised to a young Aussie mum after she was banned from the platform for a total of five months over her name, that in her culture "means good luck", but was deemed offensive by the ride share giant.

Sydney mother Swastika Chandra explained her name means "good luck and prosperity" in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, and said it forms a large part of her identity.

Despite Chandra being able use her name on her birth certificate, her Australian citizenship certificate, her healthcare card and her driver's licence without any dramas, according to Uber it was unacceptable due to its German links to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Sydney mother Swastika Chandra pictured smiling. Her first name saw her her blocked from Uber.
Swastika Chandra's first name means good luck and prosperity in Sanskrit, but it saw her blocked from Uber. Source: ACA

Mum's confusion over 'uneducated' ban from Uber

Although the ride-sharing app says it has systems in place to respect all cultures, Chandra argued her situation should've been dealt with using common sense. She was told she'd have to change her name on the platform by Uber or she'd no longer be able to use it.

"It means good luck. It means good things for me," she said. "I was putting in an order for food one afternoon and went to the payment stage and this pop-up came up saying, 'Your first name is in violation and you need to change your name on the app'," Chandra told A Current Affair.

Uber recently changed its policy on words that could be deemed offensive — including swastika — in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. While Chandra said she understands what her name means to many, she wants people to know it was "used for thousands of years" before Hitler appropriated it for the Nazi party.

"They don't know that the Hindus used it for thousands of years before Hitler used it in the wrong way," she said. "A bit of education, I think, is needed ... I'm very proud of my name. I believe in the good that comes with it and I'm not changing it for anyone."

 An Uber Car sticker.
Sydney mother Swastika Chandra said her name means good luck' but raised red flags at Uber. Source: Getty

Uber backflips over multi-agency intervention

Eventually, Uber backflipped on its decision to ban Chandra, though it took intervention from Australia's peak Hindu body, The Hindu Council, and support from the Jewish community and the NSW attorney-general. "Don't let the past be a stepping stone for your future," the mum said to women everywhere with names that are "different".

"Be proud of your name. It's your identity – it's who you are."

In a statement, Uber apologised to Chandra for inconvenience caused.

"Uber has a global policy of restricting access to users whose names entered into the Uber app contain potentially offensive words," an Uber spokesperson said. "We understand that there are different cultural nuances to names, and therefore our teams address incidents like this on a case-by-case basis to ensure we evaluate each account fairly.

"In this case, after reviewing Ms Chandra's request, we reinstated her access to the app. We have apologised to Ms Chandra for the inconvenience."

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