If you are an Uber user, you may want to check your latest trip bill. There is a new type of fraud on the rise that is quite expensive – known as vomit fraud.
Miami is a hotspot for this new fraud.
You may be wondering what this is. Here is how it works – Passengers request Uber cars, which deliver them to their destination. Shortly after, the passenger receives a note from Uber reporting an “adjustment” in the bill and an extra charge that can range from $80 to $150, depending on the driver’s prerogative.
The passenger, unaware of what’s happening, tries to contact Uber. The only way to do that is through the “help” button on the company’s app or internet page.
The first reply usually goes something like this: “I understand that it can be disconcerting to receive adjustments to the tariff after your trip ended … 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.”
The message is accompanied by photos of the alleged incident — vomit in the vehicle. The Uber driver had sent the images to the company, which considered them sufficient evidence to add the cleanup charge to the bill.
Uber policy is to charge $80 if a passenger vomits or spills a drink on the seats or any surface difficult to clean. But the charge can increase to $150 in cases of “significant quantities of body fluids (urine, blood or vomit) in the interior of the vehicle.”
Uber says the extra fees compensate the drivers for the time and money they spend cleaning their vehicles.
So what happens if there was never any vomit?
Some passengers have to send three or four emails to resolve their complaints. They must tell Uber that there was no incident, and then wait for the company to investigate and, if it agrees, reimburse their money.
Vomit fraud is not the only way that some Uber drivers are cheating customers.
Some drivers never pick up the passenger but then charge for the trip. Some combine frauds and report incidents of vomit in trips that never took place.
Miami police say this type of fraud “is difficult to consider as a crime” and that any complaints are a matter between the passengers, Uber and its drivers.
If neither Uber nor the credit card issuers agree to reimburse the victims of fraud in Miami, it’s not clear if the dispute becomes an issue for the county or the state.
The Miami-Dade Office of Consumer Protection said that as of July 1, 2017 it no longer “regulates complaints against transportation services such as Uber or Lyft,” and that any complaints should be addressed to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The ridesharing phenomenon has made getting around town easier and provided many people with a new source of income. However, as the ridesharing industry grows, more and more instances of fraud and crime will pop up – just like this new vomit fraud epidemic.
If you have found yourself the victim of fraud from Uber or Lyft, It is in your best interest to consult with our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton about your case. With professional legal assistance, you will have more leverage in settlement negotiations with Uber and we may be able to get you reimbursed for what was wrongfully taken from you.
To schedule a free consultation with us, call us today at 561-367-8777. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are always ready to help you.