Your Private Driver: SCAM ALERT

Hey readers, I know today isn’t Tuesday (or even Monday), but this is another topic that’s been coming up very often lately and is important enough for an out-of-cycle update.

Uber drivers have been taking advantage of the company’s trip cancellation policy to collect cancellation fees without actually attempting to pick anyone up.

A driver may just go right by your house without stopping, or they won’t move at all, but instead call you with some flimsy excuse about why they can’t make it and you should cancel the trip.

Drivers actually do get a cut of those five-dollar cancellation fees, and interestingly enough it’s more money than what drivers make from the average short fare (as an example, in my market I get paid $4 from a cancellation but only $2.40 from a one-mile trip).

The best way to protect yourself from unnecessary charges is to know Uber’s cancellation policy. Most relevant to this scenario, if a driver hasn’t arrived more than five minutes after the ETA estimate given in the app, you won’t be charged a fee. This works best when the driver is a no-show, and don’t be pressured into cancelling early if a deadbeat driver calls and asks you to.

In cases where the driver just zooms by without stopping, you may have to dispute the charges; the driver can mark you as a no-show after five minutes and collect a cancellation fee themselves. Fortunately this is one thing the drones at Uber support are actually competent with.

Finally, report any driver that you believe is intentionally trying to defraud you. In the app, HELP > Trip and Fare Review > My driver was unprofessional.

In the meantime, you can also try switching to Lyft if it’s available in your area. I’ve not heard of any Lyft drivers using any of these tactics, probably because the company is a bit stingier with paying for cancellations.

Sekani Wright is an experienced Uber driver working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. If you have any questions you would like answered for this column, you can contact him at djsekani at gmail dot com, or on twitter and reddit at the username djsekani. Have a safe trip!