'Vomit fraud' catching Uber riders off guard

Some customers see 'adjustment' of up to $150 on receipt

By Dawn Jorgenson - Graham Media Group
Adam Berry/2014 Getty Images

Ride-sharing options like Uber and Lyft have been amazing additions to the world of transportation, especially if that means you can go have a few drinks and ensure you’re not endangering your life or anyone else’s.

Because Uber drivers frequently service customers who have been drinking, or just people who are messy, they’ve had to come up with an additional fee for instances in which they have to clean up after someone.

That doesn't seem too farfetched, right? Except some customers are claiming they have been charged a fee when they didn’t get sick or leave a mess at all.

“Vomit fraud,” which is what the scam has been dubbed, is what some Uber customers are claiming they’ve experienced.

Sometime after the Uber ride is complete, customers receive an “adjustment” on the bill for cleaning fees. Customers have seen charges of up to $150, the Miami Herald reports.

Whew, that’s quite a hefty adjustment -- especially if there was nothing for the driver to clean up.

It seems as though claims of false adjustments are a little tricky to take up with Uber. Some customers who said they’ve fallen victim to vomit fraud have had to send numerous emails to plead their cases, then wait for the company to investigate. If the company agrees the customer was scammed, it reimburses the money.

Uber officials said they’re actively looking into reports and will take appropriate action, but added that the vast majority of cleaning fee reports are legitimate.

“Participating in fraudulent activity of any kind is a clear violation of our Community Guidelines,” the company said in a statement. “We are constantly evaluating our processes and technology related to these claims and will take appropriate action whenever fraud may be detected.”

The Better Business Bureau shows the company as having an F rating, with more than 3,000 complaints made. Many complaints detail how the customer was charged a cleaning fee that they firmly disputed.

Rather than stop using Uber to avoid being a victim of a vomit scam, here are some steps you can follow to protect yourself:

1. Check your credit card statements against your receipt to ensure you're not getting charged more than you should be.

2. The Uber driver isn't the only one who can take pictures; take one yourself as you're getting into and out of the vehicle to ensure you, too, have proof of the condition of the vehicle when you got in and out.

Anyone who feels they have been unjustly charged an "adjustment" fee should submit a form through Uber, as well as file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.‚Äč

If you believe you've been the victim of vomit fraud, or you've encountered any unexpected fees, we want to hear from you. Contact us by clicking here.

Graham Media Group 2018