A glitch in Uber leads to an overcharge — can I get a refund?
Darrick Collins thinks he's going to pay $20 for a ride in Los Angeles. But Uber charges him $98 instead. What's going on?
Q:Uber is charging me $98 for a ride in Los Angeles. But I only agreed to pay $20 for it. The system kept glitching when I was on the app. I denied all of the high offers and took the lowest. They also canceled two drivers who were under $20. Can you help me get a $78 refund, please?
— Darrick Collins, Inglewood, Calif.
A: Uber's app should have charged you what it said it would — not a penny more.
But you have to keep in mind what Uber is trying to get. It wants to extract the most money it can from each ride. When I enter a destination on my Uber app on St. Simons Island, Georgia, it offers several choices, including the less expensive UberX and the slightly roomier — and pricier — UberXL. But in California, Uber <a href="https://www.uber.com/blog/california/upcoming-changes-to-the-driver-app/">displays its rates differently</a>, which appears to be what happened to you. The system allowed drivers to set a higher rate, which most passengers rejected. Uber disabled the system that allowed drivers to set a higher fare multiplier.
When you notified Uber, it should have quickly corrected the problem. It did not. You made numerous efforts to contact Uber, but it still didn't help.”
It appears that when you requested your ride, you had several cars that set a higher fare multiplier. You turned them down but somehow still got matched with one of the more expensive drivers. That's a glitch.
When you notified Uber, it should have quickly corrected the problem. It did not. You made numerous efforts to contact Uber, but it still didn't help. Fortunately, I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Uber customer service contacts on my consumer advocacy site, Ellilott.org.
This is one of those rare problems that Uber seems to have fixed for its users before I contacted them. But it kind of forgot to take care of the problems it created for some of its users before the policy change. When you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of trips, as Uber does, it's easy to lose track of complaints like yours. But that's no excuse.
You could have reached out to Uber or initiated a credit card dispute. You kept a thorough paper trail, although you didn't have screenshots of your accepted rides. It's unrealistic to expect anyone to take a screenshot of a transaction that appears successful. But you almost have to do that nowadays. Otherwise, a company like Uber can overcharge you by $78.
Christopher Elliott, Chief Advocacy Officer Elliott Advocacy
Elliot started a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to handle help requests from readers. Use this link to the help form to get assistance. “I'm always here to help.”