This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Uber is one of the best ways to get around — especially when you’re visiting a new city. The convenience of being able to order a ride on demand to get you from Point A to Point B has helped to revolutionize travel. However, there’s no doubt that the ride-hailing service has its flaws — especially when it comes to scams.
In recent months, an Uber scam that has been around for a while has started to resurface in certain cities — “vomit fraud.” And, unfortunately, it’s just as bad as it sounds. Frequent Uber riders know that the service charges a fee if you — or one of your companions — vomits or makes a mess in a car, charging you a fee based on how big the mess is.
The scam works so that after a driver drops you off, they’ll stage a mess in the car to make it looked like you vomited, spilled a drink or food or anything along the lines that calls for an added fine under Uber’s terms. Then, the driver notifies Uber that you were a not-so-pleasant rider and includes the photographs of the self-induced mess as proof.
It isn’t until after the fact that the rider will then receive notice that an added fee — ranging from $80 to $150, depending on the magnitude of the mess — for the adjustment.
Uber said that it’s “actively looking into reports where fraud may be detected and will take appropriate actions on those accounts.”
The rideshare giant says that “the vast majority of cleaning fee reports are legitimately the result of someone making a mess in the car,” Uber said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “In the instances where we find a confirmed case of fraud, we take appropriate action.”
One Uber driver in the Miami area committed “vomit fraud” on a rider after even neglecting to pick the passenger up. The passenger — after some back-and-forth with Uber, including providing the company with screenshots that he had never been picked up — eventually was refunded both for the cost of the ride and for the adjusted fee. Uber told the Herald that the driver was removed from the app.
Police departments, such as those in Miami, have a hard time with “vomit fraud,” as it’s “difficult to consider as a crime,” and any complaints are a matter to be figured out between the passenger, Uber and its drivers.
How to Make Sure This Doesn’t Happen to You
So, what can you do to prevent “vomit fraud” from happening to you? First, check your bill. Verify the final receipt from Uber, as well as your credit card statement to make sure the two amounts match and no fee was added to your total.
Next, if you do see something fishy, report it immediately to Uber via the “help” function on the app. The interaction will likely take some back and forth, including Uber saying that the driver submitted photo evidence that the mess was actually there, but be persistent. To help save yourself, consider taking photos of the interior of the car when you get in and when you exit.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 points! With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 60,000 point sign up bonus worth up to $1,200 in value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards