- What is the Uber Cancellation Fee Scam?
- Cancellation Scams Happen on Uber Eats Too!
- Warning Signs of Uber Cancellation Scams
- Have You Fallen For This Scam?
- How to Stay Safe When Riding with Uber
- Frequently Asked Questions
To beat Uber cancellation fee scams, it's crucial to dispute your cancellation fee with Uber immediately after you cancel your trip, so you don't forget. These scams can be challenging to avoid since you don't know what kind of driver you're going to get, but the good news is it's relatively easy to get your money back.
What is the Uber Cancellation Fee Scam?
In an Uber cancellation fee scam, sketchy drivers take advantage of Uber's cancellation policy that requires you to pay a fee if you cancel your ride after a specified amount of time (2-5 minutes depending on your location and type of ride). This fee, usually between $5-$10, exists to recognize the time and effort a driver spends getting to a location, which makes sense.
In most cases, this model is fair, but it does create a loophole that some unscrupulous drivers try to take advantage of. Here's how the scam works.
Your Uber Driver Doesn't Arrive
After booking an Uber ride, you follow the driver's route and notice they have stopped short of your pickup location. They seem close but aren't quite there yet. You try to contact the driver, but they don't pick up, and you've exhausted your options.
Your Ride is Cancelled
Your patience wears thin after being ignored by your Uber driver, and you cancel your ride. The app warns you you'll receive a cancellation fee, but you don't have any other option at this point since the driver isn't getting any closer to you.
In some cases, the driver may be the one to cancel the ride. For example, they will drive close to your pickup spot, then cancel, making it look like you didn't show up to be picked up.
The Driver Pockets Your Cancellation Fee
Per Uber's policy, the cancellation fee you pay is sent to the Uber driver. The driver, at this point, will be hoping that you don't dispute the charge and they can keep the money even though they didn't drive you anywhere.
These Uber scams occur all over the road, not just in the U.S. There are several examples found all over Twitter and Reddit from people who had to cancel an Uber ride because the driver wouldn't drive to the pickup spot.
@Uber @Uber_Support One of you’re drivers just tried to scam me into paying your cancellation fee! He’s 15 minutes away starts going in the wrong direction! I call and he hangs up. We played the game of who’s gonna cancel first. I won. Please deal with him. I have screenshots pic.twitter.com/uIU6Eg1vSS— Matt Whitesel (@ImStump3d) June 14, 2021
There's also a slight variation of this scam where the driver cancels the ride themselves, claiming you didn't show up or were at the wrong location.
The old Uber cancellation fee scam. 😆🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/VjHEH4MuAb— liljimmy (@liljimm65669935) March 6, 2020
Your driver may even drive right past you to show that they arrived at your pickup point, but they won't stop to actually pick you up.
Cancellation Scams Happen on Uber Eats Too!
It's not just Uber rides that you need to be careful with. Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy says that similar scams happen on Uber Eats also.
"In one of the more popular Uber Eats scams, delivery drivers will go into a restaurant, pick up the food, and then mark the request as Cancelled," he says. Once orders are canceled, they are re-opened and other drivers receive the request.
"At that point," Campbell says, "The driver has pocketed the food, scamming the business, Uber Eats, and the customer."
"Another similar scam is where some delivery drivers pretend to drop off the food, take a picture for Uber Eats, and mark the food as Delivered," he says. "They then just walk away with the food."
"In these cases, the driver gets paid and gets to keep the food." Campbell says that this particular scam is harder to accomplish thanks to Ring cameras and other security recording systems, but it still happens.
Warning Signs of Uber Cancellation Scams
Unfortunately, there aren't any obvious warning signs that an Uber driver will ditch you just to pocket the cancellation fee. The only thing you can do is check the driver's rating and decide whether it's someone you trust.
When your driver is already on the way, there are a few things that could signal they're trying to scam you, and you can cancel your ride just to be safe:
- If your driver takes a longer route to get to you for no apparent reason, they could be trying to take longer in the hopes that you'll cancel the ride.
- If your drive is on route but then doesn't move for a while, they could be getting ready to cancel the ride.
- If you call your driver, but they don't pick up, they could be deliberately trying to avoid you.
Have You Fallen For This Scam?
It can be annoying when your Uber driver is sketchy and pulls this scam on you. Although it's a waste of time, it is pretty simple to get your money back after falling for an Uber cancellation fee scam.
Requesting a Refund from Uber
- In the main menu of the app, go to "Trips."
- Go to the trip, and you will see the cancellation fee.
- Select "Get trip help?"
- Select "Dispute my cancellation fee."
- Select "Review my cancellation fee & submit."
- Select the reason for canceling from the list and "Submit."
Based on other riders' experiences, it seems pretty straightforward and easy to get a refund if you've unfairly been charged a cancellation fee.
It is essential because scammers rely on people either forgetting to dispute the charge or not caring enough. Uber's Community Guidelines state that they review these disputes and remove drivers caught scamming customers.
Uber's Community Guidelines
Fraudulent activity may also include, but not be limited to: accepting trip, order, or delivery requests without the intention to complete; claiming fraudulent fees or charges, like false cleaning fees; intentionally requesting, accepting, or completing fraudulent or falsified trips or deliveries; claiming to complete a delivery without ever picking up the delivery item;
How to Stay Safe When Riding with Uber
This Uber cancellation fee scam is just one thing you need to know when using the ride-sharing app. There are other scams and dangers to be mindful of, including those involving Uber and Lyft drivers who:
- Deliberately take you the wrong (or longer) way to your destination to charge you more money
- Drive erratically and dangerously
- Attempt to contact you after the ride for personal reasons
- Take you to the wrong location on purpose
- Abuse or attempt to sexually assault passengers
- Let unregistered people drive passengers around under their profile
This isn't to say that Uber isn't safe—it can be safer than taking public transport or a cab, thanks to its GPS tracking. However, there are things you can do to keep yourself safe, in the unfortunate case that a scammer or dangerous Uber driver targets you. Some tips include the following:
- Properly wear a face cover or mask whenever you're inside the vehicle.
- Wait at your pickup location until your driver arrives.
- Ask the driver who they are picking up before you get in.
- If there's anything you don't feel comfortable about with the driver or the car, cancel the ride—don't risk it!
- End the ride early if you're feeling unsafe.
- Report the driver to Uber if their driving was unsafe or they were inappropriate with you.
- Ride with other people you know, especially at night.
- Sit in the backseat.
- Share your location with a friend or family member when you're on a ride.
- Check the driver's profile and cancel the ride if they have a low rating.