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Ride-hailing vomit fraud is leaving passengers feeling sick

We have all had drunk punters in the back of the cab. You often think better of it, but being an old softy I find it hard reject anyone, mainly because in this dangerous world I wouldn’t want anyone to come to harm or get lost and end up sleeping on the street. I have kids of my own. You wouldn’t want someone to do reject them because they looked a bit worse for wear.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always pay, and I have regretted being so easy going when it appears that I have the woman from the Exorcist in my cab, head spinning and spraying green gunk all over the place.

When this happens, as you will know, we can ask for a clean-up fee. Sometimes I have and sometimes I haven’t. It depends on the situation. Although, it’s been £40 for a while now (which hardly covers being out of action for a day, or night) so if anyone from TfL is reading this, it might be time to increase that somewhat.

One thing I have never done is make up a false claim or try to rip someone off by over-charging.

This sort of thing seems to be becoming common-place among Uber drivers from what I can understand.

One of the perks of using the app, so I’m told, is that it’s all payment without cash, with users putting their card details into the system and the money being taken automatically. This so-called perk is one that is open to abuse. Unfortunately, the system relies on trust. Drivers must end the journey by marking it as completed but sometimes it seems they “forget” to do this, while driving around and around the M25 in a daze, “accidentally” racking up a huge bill which the poor, unfortunate rider usually discovers in the morning mid hangover.

A newer scam seems to be the staging of fake mess to justify charging a clean up fee, which is only later discovered by the passenger.

So, called “vomit fraud” sees drivers create fake sick stains and taking pictures as proof before reporting it to their paymasters at Uber.

People all over the world have been highlighting this issue after waking up to find Uber has helped itself to whopping cleaning fee while they were in the land of nod.

People who object to the charge are usually told that the driver has sent photos as proof – although claims these are often faked are now rife.

Ellouise Dennis, from London, complained recently she was hit by a fake “cleaning charge.” Writing on Facebook she said: “Myself and two friends had a nine-minute Uber trip and were all dropped off at our houses successfully without any issues.

“In the morning my payment was increased as a cleaning charge was added of £110 and was taken straight out of my account! We had no food or drink on us and made no mess whatsoever.

“The picture evidence they sent me was nothing to do with my journey.

“When reading into this on Twitter and local newspapers, I’ve found that some Uber drivers are making a mess deliberately and blaming it on their last passengers of the night.

“When I complained about this, Uber didn’t take my side at all and provided a generic response saying, ‘we appreciate your understanding’.

“It wasn’t until I tweeted them for everyone to see, that they started taking it seriously and said they will be refunding me.”

Some might say these people deserve it, although not me. You have to wonder if they learned their lesson though. You also have to marvel at Uber’s way with words in these situations. Passengers get a notification from the firm saying that an “adjustment” had to me made to their bill for cleaning. Some of these “adjustments” can be an eye-watering £115 - to clean up “significant quantities of body fluids (urine, blood or vomit) in the interior of the vehicle.” Ouch! (That’s £115 TfL readers, not £40.)

But I think Uber’s got it wrong here. They stuck to their usual line. If passengers got an email saying, “Uber has disrupted your wallet and removed £115,” people would have been fine with it. The fact is, I remember the days when buses or trains being disrupted was bad. Not bad good, bad in a sweary annoying kind of way, but I’m told everyone below the age of 30 loves a bit of disruption these days.

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