Uber/Lyft Invalid or Incorrect Charges – “Vomit Fraud”

Uber/Lyft Invalid or Incorrect Charges – “Vomit Fraud”

Drivers: “gaming the system” is almost certain to lead to negative outcomes in the long run, most importantly losing your income stream if you get permanently disconnected from the Uber/Lyft Driver Applications.

The article referenced for this blog post is an entertaining story with a lesson for rideshare passengers as well as rideshare drivers.

Passengers should be watching their credit card statements to insure what they are being charged for rideshare trips makes sense.

Rideshare drivers should realize that this kind of fraud is a short-term play.  You might get away with fraudulent behavior once or even twice but eventually you will be caught and could permanently lose access to your source of income.

Recently I had a passenger spill coffee in the backseat, he didn’t tell me before he exited my car, and I didn’t discover the spill for about 15 minutes. 

I opened a support ticket reporting the spill and to my surprise it took over 8 hours for support to respond.

In one my professionally written, polite, but persistent follow up requests  I said: 

“I am a driver with over 7,000 lifetime trips on your platform and this is only the 4th time I’ve reported a passenger mess.” 

This was my fourth follow up message (persistent) during the 8 hours it took to get a response from support and this one returned an almost immediate response and an $80 payment to help me clean up my backseat.

I suspect the delay was related to increased support scrutiny of passenger mess reports due to the “Vomit Fraud” articles currently being reported and re-reported by online new sources.

In my experience, it was unusual to wait so long for a support response. The first three times I reported a passenger mess I received a response (and payment) in less than an hour. 

And the one time in over 9,000 lifetime trips where a passenger threw up inside my car I received a response in minutes.

As I said, I assume support resources are on the lookout now for “vomit fraud” and when I pointed out that my lifetime record shows statistically I rarely report passenger messes it helped “unstick” the response and helped insure the outcome was in my favor.

I believe my long-term professional approach to the rideshare driving “gig” helped make my case.

As a rideshare driver with no direct “employer” supervision it would be easy to approach the gig in a less-than professional manner, however, my Dad’s lesson about “not burning bridges” continues to ring true in my life.

In my life, approaching everything I do in a professional manner has paid off countless time.

Another cautionary tale for rideshare passengers:

I have a personal rideshare passenger experience where I was overcharged for a rideshare trip home from the Denver airport… I was charged a $65 total fare.

At that point I’d been a rideshare driver for over a year and the fare seemed a little high, so I contacted the support organization and in my professional and polite communication I simply asked for a breakdown of how much I was charged per mile and how much I was charged for the time the trip took.

Support responded saying something like: “There was an error in the application and I would receive a $15 credit on my account.”  Sure enough I was refunded $15 on my credit card.

That means my total fare was reduced by 23%!!! (I know… “math geek”)

I’ll give the rideshare company the benefit of the doubt, maybe there was an error in the application.

However, at the time my thought went to the 5 years I did significant business travel and my travel expenses were reimbursed by my company.  If this had been a business trip, I would’ve submitted the $65 trip on my expense report without any additional thought.

So drivers, while it’s true that business travelers or people on vacation might not notice if a driver, for example, takes a longer route in order to increase the trip fare… but I strongly suggest drivers simply do the “right” thing and engage in long-term thinking about being a rideshare driver.

You might be thinking: “I won’t be a rideshare driver for long so…” 

But I see rideshare driving as my “Personal money machine” and I have no intention of ever turning off the machine. 

I can imagine years from now, perhaps in retirement, still going out on the road for a few hours to earn some quick cash. 

Maybe I want to go to a concert or buy expensive tickets to a sporting event or theater performance? 

Or maybe, like one of my drivers when I took a passenger trip, I’ll want to drive a fancy car and I’ll drive just enough to pay for it. 

My driver that day was driving a 5-series BMW… and believe me it was a seriously nice car!!!

In one of my books, The Art of Rideshare Driving, I integrate stories like the ones found in this blog post always taking care to use the stories to make what I believe are important points for rideshare drivers.

In my other book, The Science of Rideshare Driving, I walk potential rideshare drivers and established rideshare drivers through all the math they need to calculate their actual “Take Home Pay” and I explain why it does not make sense to try to “game the system” and it’s not necessary.

It bothers me a little when I see advertisement to sign up to be a rideshare driver using clever marketing slogans like: “The ultimate side hustle.”

I’m a movie nut and the word “hustle” reminds me of movies like the 1961 flick “The Hustler” and a classic and personal favorite, “The Sting” from 1973.

Rideshare driving is in no way a dishonest way to earn… rideshare driving is a “real” way to make “interesting” income and in my books,  I provide “business in box” information to help real people earn interesting income and feel good about the “job” and themselves while they are transporting mostly nice people from where they are to where they want to go.

Main Takeaways:  In my opinion trying to “game the system” takes a lot of work and effort.  When I drive I know there will be short trips, medium trips, and long trips and my earnings always average out over time to more than $20 per hour (Time = when I am online completing passenger trips and waiting for my next trip request.)

I take pride in delivering a professional service in a professional manner and when I drive home at the end of the day I feel good about the work I’ve done.

It’s also true instead of working hard to figure out ways I might be able to “game the system” I’m enjoying my rideshare driving days… listening to my music; talking (or not) to my passengers; and staying “cool.”

I’ve never been a fan of advice that starts with “Life is too short to…” 

In my experience life is very long and I plan to enjoy every moment… I hope you do too!

~   Y

Uber/Lyft Invalid or Incorrect Charges – “Vomit Fraud”