Uber pas­sen­gers ac­cuse driv­ers of £110 ‘vomit fraud’

Cus­tomers stung with clean­ing fees af­ter jour­neys say pho­to­graphs of ‘mess’ in cars are be­ing staged

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Robert Men­dick and Yo­hannes Lowe

UBER driv­ers have been ac­cused of spray­ing liq­uid over the back seats of their cars in or­der to charge cus­tomers un­war­ranted clean­ing fees. Bri­tish us- ers of the ride-hail­ing app have shared their ex­pe­ri­ences on so­cial me­dia af­ter the “vomit fraud” scam was first ex­posed by Uber pas­sen­gers in the US.

Vic­tims re­ceive mo­bile phone no­ti­fi­ca­tions say­ing that an “ad­just­ment” has been made to their bill for clean­ing. The costs can range from £15 for vac­u­um­ing, up to £115 for “sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of body flu­ids (urine, blood or vomit) in the in­te­rior of the ve­hi­cle.”

When the pas­sen­gers com­plain to Uber, the com­pany sends pho­to­graphs, taken by the driv­ers, of what it has

Green ma­chine

been told is liq­uid or vomit on the seats. How­ever, cus­tomers have claimed the pho­to­graphs are be­ing staged by dis­hon­est driv­ers. Uber has re­funded those cus­tomers who shared com­plaints on so­cial me­dia.

El­louise Den­nis, 22, from Wood­ford, east Lon­don, says she fell vic­tim to the scam af­ter an Uber ride home with two friends af­ter a night out in April. The teach­ing as­sis­tant said she re­ceived a £110 bill the morn­ing af­ter the trip.

“I was in shock be­cause we did not have any food or drink in the Uber,” she said. “I asked for pic­ture proof and they sent me a pic­ture of what looked like por­ridge on the back seat and the driver said it was us. In the end I put it on Twit­ter and within half an hour they mes­saged me say­ing they were go­ing to give me my money back.”

Af­ter a 20-minute jour­ney home, Grace Prosser, a univer­sity stu­dent, re­ceived a no­ti­fi­ca­tion from Uber say­ing a £110 clean­ing fee had been charged for the “sick” in the back of the car.

“I sug­gested they take a good look at the photo and ad­vise how two passen- gers could sit on the back seat and make so much mess,” she said. “I sent three fur­ther mes­sages over the course of the week­end, with no re­ply, and fi­nally re­ceived a re­sponse ad­vis­ing that I would be re­im­bursed as they had taken an­other look at the mess. No apol­ogy, no ex­pla­na­tions.”

Both women said they now take be­fore and af­ter pho­tos of the state of ve­hi­cles in case they get ac­cused again.

An Uber spokesman said: “The Uber app is based on mu­tual re­spect for rid­ers and driv­ers. For li­censed driv­ers who use the app, their ve­hi­cles are their place of work and any dam­age or mess can mean they are un­able to con­tinue work­ing.

“When a driver claims a clean­ing fee, they are re­quired to pro­vide de­tails of the trip, the pas­sen­gers and the in­ci­dent, as well as pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence and a val­i­dated clean­ing re­ceipt, which our sup­port team then in­ves­ti­gates. We are con­stantly eval­u­at­ing our pro­cesses and tech­nol­ogy re­lated to these claims and will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion when­ever fraud may be de­tected.”

A Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle slides round a muddy corkscrew bend in The Mo­tor­cyling Club’s 94th an­nual longdis­tance nav­i­ga­tion trial in the Cheshire Peak Dis­trict Na­tional Park yes­ter­day. Hun­dreds of cars and bikes took part.

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