It’s called vomit fraud. And it could make your Uber trip really expensive
A new form of Uber fraudulence is on the rise. It’s known as vomit fraud, and it can result in extra charges of anywhere from $80 to $150 dollars to your Uber bill. Fraudulent Uber claims are growing in frequency as Uber drivers become savvier when it comes to gaming the system, and Uber has been slow to react to this problem.
What is Vomit Fraud?
Vomit fraud is the practice by which an Uber driver will submit a claim to Uber that a passenger vomited onto the seats or other hard-to-clean area of the car while receiving a ride. This will cause Uber to tack on an additional charge directly billed to the passenger.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for passengers to contest these charges, and Uber has been slow to react to the increase in the number of fraudulent claims of this nature.
Uber’s Policy on Spills and Vomit
Uber has a policy by which drivers are compensated for a passenger spilling a drink or any substance or vomiting onto a seat or hard-to-clean area of their card. The default compensation is $80, but a driver may put in a claim for $150 in the case where significant quantities of bodily fluid such as vomit or urine spills into the vehicle.
In order for Uber to honor a claim, the driver must send Uber photographic evidence of the spill, stain or vomit. Once they’ve submitted the proof, Uber will add an additional charge to the passenger’s tab, which is automatically deducted via credit card or debit card.
This policy is understandable, given that people frequently use Uber and other ride sharing programs while inebriated, leading to situations where someone does legitimately make a mess in the car. However, unscrupulous Uber drivers have figured out that this policy can be exploited.
The Mechanics of Vomit Fraud
An Uber driver engaged in vomit fraud will have a picture of their car that ‘proves’ that a spill or vomit has occurred. This picture might be from a previous time when someone really did vomit in the car, or it might be staged entirely.
The driver will pick up a ride and drive that passenger to their destination. After dropping the passenger off, the driver will submit a false claim with their bogus photograph to Uber. Uber will credit the driver’s claim and charge the passenger for a mishap he or she isn’t responsible for.
Once a claim has been credited, Uber is extremely reluctant to reverse the charge even when informed by the passenger that it’s a fraudulent charge.
The Difficulty of Fighting Vomit Fraud
Uber has proven to be reluctant to reverse charges of these kind once a driver has submitted ‘proof’. It seems that their policy is that once the driver has given evidence, it’s most likely that the passenger is lying to try to avoid the charge. This is the stance that fraudulent drivers are counting on to make vomit fraud work as a scam.
Passengers have reported having to make multiple help requests and reports to Uber stating that they didn’t vomit in the car before any action is taken. Some have managed to have the charge reversed eventually, though only after multiple contacts and phone calls with Uber.
Others weren’t able to get the charges reversed at all. In at least one case, Uber refused to reverse the charges, the passenger had her credit card company deny the charge, causing Uber to cancel the passenger’s account with Uber. Nightmare stories include an instance where a man was hit with two fraudulent vomit charges in the same night.
Regardless of whether a passenger is able to eventually get a vomit charge reversed, the process is guaranteed to be time consuming and frustrating, with passengers frequently being shuttled between different customer representatives requiring them to tell the story from the beginning multiple times.
In addition, Uber won’t give any special notification of a vomit charge, meaning if a person isn’t vigilant about checking their credit card statement or bank account summary, they may not even notice the charge to begin with.
A Pattern of Fraud
The vomit fraud scam is the fastest growing Uber fraud type at the moment, in large part because of how lucrative it is for scammers. However, it’s far from the only way in which Uber drivers have become adept at gaming the Uber system for their benefit.
A longstanding Uber scam is drivers taking an order, not picking up the passenger, and reporting to Uber that they picked up and delivered the passenger to his or her location. Again, resolving a dispute of this nature is frustrating and time consuming. Some Uber drivers have even combined the vomit fraud with the no-show ride claim.
Often times, these Uber drivers tend to look for a profile of a certain type of person to exploit with these types of tactics and scams. Tourists in particular are vulnerable to Uber scams, as being in an unfamiliar area while on vacation tends to lessen vigilance and present a more attractive target to scammers.
While visiting the city of Miami, it’s wise to be aware of some of the perils of Uber and other ride sharing companies. The bottom line is that all the drivers are independent contractors with very little investment into the company for which they drive. Most drivers will adhere to the rules, but the bad apples face few consequences for fraudulent behavior. And Uber and other ride sharing programs have demonstrated a pattern of siding with their drivers over passengers in situations where an incident is disputed.
The Uber Alternative
Traditional, professional taxicab services have the advantage of employing drivers with far more accountability and professionalism than Uber and other ride sharing companies offer. The ride sharing market is somewhat of a Wild West when it comes to the pool of drivers and the connection between the parent company and their contractors. By comparison, taxicab services keep much closer tabs on their drivers and can guarantee more in the way of quality assurance.
At reasonable prices, the taxi passenger has more peace of mind in knowing that drivers are held to a uniform standard in terms of their honesty and decorum. Ride sharing programs have certainly become popular over the past few years, but there’s a reason the taxi has been the go-to means of city transportation for the past 80 years or so.
Yellow Taxi Miami offers taxi services in Miami with competitive prices and a guarantee that its drivers are seasoned professionals who conduct themselves with integrity and class.
If you’re visiting Miami for the first time, Yellow Taxi Miami is a service that you can count on to get you wherever you need to go in a timely manner and with your safety as our number one priority. If you’re looking for taxi services in Miami, give us a call and schedule a ride whenever you need one.