‘Vomit fraud’ claims causing hassles for passengers and for Uber
Using the ride service Uber can be a cheaper and more convenient form of getting from here to there — but not if an $80 to $150 cleaning fee is tacked onto your bill because the driver had to clean up your vomit or some other type of mess.
What’s being called “vomit fraud” is a growing source of complaints by riders and a source of frustration for Uber, according to news accounts.
The scam, according to the Miami Herald, works like this: Sometime after being dropped off, an Uber passenger is contacted saying their bill is being adjusted because of an “incident” in the vehicle that required a cleanup by the driver. And when the customer protests — saying such an incident never happened — Uber’s reply comes with photos of vomit that the driver supplied to the company.
“In this case, your driver notified us that during your trip there was an incident in the vehicle and therefore a cleanup fee of $150 was added,” a typical Uber reply can say, according to the Herald.
Apparently, vomit fraud, is not a new phenomenon around South Florida.
In July of 2017 and again in the fall, WPLG-Ch. 10 reported on such cases.
An Oakland Park bartender, Samantha Owens, told the station that after a September ride by Uber, she was later charged a $150 cleaning fee.
“It’s a scam,” Owens told the station. “I feel like I’m an easy target. I work at a bar. I’m getting picked up at 2 a.m. — to Uber, it’s going to look bad.”
In another case, a passenger told WPLG about being charged the cleaning fee after the driver submitted photos to the company of what was supposed to be urine on the vehicle’s seat.
In both cases, the fee was eventually refunded, the station reported.
The Herald documents multiple cases in South Florida, including one in which a journalist who canceled a ride request was charged for the trip, charged a $6 fee for canceling it and a $150 cleaning fee.
An Uber representative told the newspaper that the company was looking into cases where fraud is alleged and taking “appropriate actions,” on those accounts.
“The vast majority of cleaning fee reports are legitimately the result of someone making a mess in the car. In the instances where we find a confirmed case of fraud, we take appropriate action,” the company told the Herald.
In some cases reported by the newspaper, Uber removed the allegedly offending drivers from the ride’s app.
Uber vomit fraud cases are not limited to South Florida or even to the United States.
The Australian online news organization news.com.au reported on multiple cases in January — highlighted by a woman charged the $150 cleaning fee after the driver submitted a picture supposedly showing the aftermath of her vomiting episode inside the Uber vehicle that gave her a nine-minute ride.
“I’m livid. I’m never using Uber again. I just want an apology and my money back,” the woman told news.com.au.
After the case was reviewed, she too, received a refund.
On social media some users are calling on the federal government to deter incidents like vomit fraud by allowing ride services to be fined when such allegations are verified.