Uber Accidentally Charged A Man $14,000+ For A 20 Minute (Non-Surge) Ride

Filed Under: Uber

Back in the day we’d always hear horror stories about Uber’s surge pricing, where people would take a 20 minute ride and be charged $500. This was usually shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, on Cinco de Mayo, etc. I didn’t have much sympathy for these people, since Uber clearly showed the surge before you request a ride. So if you agree to 20x surge pricing, that’s your problem.

Fortunately this is less of an issue nowadays, as Uber shows you the fare upfront, so there’s no excuse for not knowing exactly what you’ll pay.

Over the weekend a crazy story emerged of a man who was charged over 14,000USD for a 21 minute ride in Toronto on the evening of December 8, 2017. The passenger took a metered taxi through Uber (which is an option in some cities, and never subjected to surge pricing, but rather you pay what’s on the meter through the app). After the ride he was surprised to find that the total for the 21 minute ride was 18,518.50CAD, or ~14,400USD.

At first he assumed it was a mistake, so he followed up with Uber customer support. The response?

“I can confirm that based on the pickup and drop off location of the trip you took, the fare is correct.”

Did he drive across the whole country, or….?!?! It’s amazing that Uber customer support is so incompetent that they could think that a 21 minute ride would cost that much. It’s one thing for the mistake to be made in the first place, but for that to be the response when it’s brought to Uber’s attention? Wow…

Only after his situation got popular on social media did Uber issue him a refund.

So, how did this happen? Apparently this wasn’t a glitch on Uber’s end, but rather the driver incorrectly entered the total fare into the app. While with regular Uber rides the amount is automatically entered, for taxis that are booked through Uber, the driver manually has to enter the total. However, you’d think Uber would set some limits in their system for how much can be entered, in order to avoid situations like this.

On one hand I’d be worried that the driver was trying to pull a fast one, though I feel like if that were the case the driver may have tried to charge an extra $10 or $20, and not an extra $18,000, because anyone would notice that.

  1. Uber’s customer service is atrocious. I’ve had similar incidents where the mistake is so obvious, I figured it would be easy to fix. Instead, it was an arduous process to get it fixed. They’re truly incompetent and horrible.

  2. Situations is misspelled. Uber should definetly look into preventing another situation like this from happening again.

  3. I wonder if the initial response from Uber was a function of true incompetence, Uber not empowering there front line customer service reps to actually be able to do anything, or something else.

  4. I once had an uber ride in Ottawa where the (very friendly) driver seemingly cancelled the ride after doing a block or so whereas the ride lasted a good 20 Minutes.

    The fare should have been $25 ended up being $2. I sent Uber 3 emails telling them the fare was wrong, they just wouldn’t listen and never adjusted the fare.

    Uber’a customer service at first used to be quite good, now they just don’t care and anyone contacting them is a nuisance.

    Based on how Uber has evolved and the SPG points coming to an end I’ve decided to avoid them unless any option – used to be the other way around.

  5. It is ironic that this is happening during the week that Lyft is launching in Toronto

    I don’t understand how the taxi driver is allowed to charge that much for a ride.

  6. Agree that Uber’s customer service is really terrible. They are unable to help with even simple requests, never mind something unusual like this.

  7. Looks like it should have been $18.50 CAD and the driver accidentally entered it wrong (185 followed by 1850). Uber should know to put a limit on things like this. Stupid.

  8. Looking at the the fare the taxi driver probably intended to charge 18.5CAD but accidentally typed it twice.

  9. That’s because nearly all “customer service” at Uber, both on the rider and driver side, is done by bots. I can almost guarantee nobody “double checked” anything…

  10. Can confirm how bad Uber’s customer service is. Once had a driver enter a freeway through an off-ramp (drove the wrong way, then made a u-turn as I was telling him to stop because he was going the wrong way). I immediately told the guy to pull off and drop me off.

    Contacted their customer service to complain. Got a generic message back saying that the fare I was charged (~$7) appeared to be correct, and ignoring me telling them the guy drove the wrong way onto the freeway. After replying incredulously back that I was more interested in warning them about the dangerous driving — which the map of the trip showed, they “thanked” me for my concerns and agreed to give me $5 credit for a future ride.

    I’ve been much happier with Lyft since..

  11. Lucky-
    I give you credit for skimming over the constant grammar critics. They’re annoying to read, so I can only imagine how you feel.
    Give the guy a break. Why do you read the blog and continue to autocorrect everything he says.

  12. Why are you all having issues with Uber’s CS? I’ve always thought they were very competent, never had to even put in a second complaint. Just go to the ride, select the issue (mostly driver taking route too long), and usually, I’m issued a good enough partial refund right then and there.

  13. Uber is just a terrible company overall. Don’t get me wrong I like the idea of ride sharing. It’s the company’s culture that made a difference.

    Amazon probably has as many translations as Uber and yet they managed to keep it (for the most part) customer centric.

  14. I deleted Uber from my app about two months ago (after thousands of dollars spent with them almost since the company’s beginning), after getting fed up with the poor quality of their customer service, which used to be much better. I’ve been happy with Lyft since then.

  15. I just wanna comment about the surge pricing. I’m familiar with it and know what I’m getting into if I click agree to the surging price.

    But I used uberX two days ago in Jakarta. When I ordered, I was given the fare, which is a bit higher than usual but I thought it was ok since it was raining at that time. There was no surge pricing notification whatsoever and there was nowhere in the app to click indicating that I agree with the surge pricing.

    When I arrived in my destination, I didn’t check how much I paid and gave 5 star rating to the driver and even tipped him cash. However, when I checked the receipt on my email later, it turned out there was a surge pricing of 1.8, which means I paid almost double actually.

    I didn’t complain because the fare still made sense for the traffic and weather at that time. I’m just wondering if it’s ever happened to someone else too or not (no surge pricing when you ordered but got charged surge pricing when you already arrive in your destination).

  16. Huh. I took an Uber in Johannesburg (South Africa) and the navigation was terrible — took this guy way out of his way. I complained about it, and was promptly refunded the difference.

  17. The CS these days just do a cut and paste, with little or no regards to the contents of the complaint.

    This case is just one of them. A 18.5K CAD fare could still be deemed correct, is extremely pathetic CS work. Uber is struggling big time, and the culture of nonchalance has gotten much worse.

    From a disruptor, they are simply disruptive now.

  18. If you have an issue with a credit card charge, report it to your credit card company. I see a lot of times where a person has a bad experience and posts online that they are now out that money. But a lot of times, if you just click on the charge on your credit card account and report it, you won’t have to pay it. If you abuse this, obviously not the case but if you have a legitimat issue, they can solve it.
    Worse case, it delays you paying it. Best case, you get a more important partner (at least on the vendor side) on your side to dispute the charge and can resolve the issue.

  19. The business model for all of these “platforms” apparently does not permit acceptable customer service as they consider themselves to simply be a matchmaking service that takes a large cut from the transaction. It may take a few years for the courts to slap them down.

  20. I had a similar situation in Iceland many years ago where the bank used the reverse exchange rate to process the transaction (instead of 1:5 they used 5:1) so I wound up paying the equivalent of multiple hundred dollars for a short taxi ride. Disputed it with my card issuing bank but they refused to reverse the charge citing that “foreign exchange rates are subject to fluctuation”. I terminated my relationship with that bank soon afterwards (this was just the final straw – there had been plenty of other issues before that too but not quite so blatant).

  21. @Tommy: this happened with me recently as well in Singapore. I had pre booked an Uber. In the morning, after firing up the app, it showed the car was on the way. Nothing in the surge was mentioned. Only once I was at airport and left the car did I notice it. Took me 2-3 exchanges with them via email to get 20% off as credit but they still wouldn’t accept that there is potentially a bug in their system.

  22. @Tommy,

    I had several experiences like that using Uber in Moscow. The fare would consistently be revised upwards, withbsurge seemingly applied long after the trip had finished.

    The prices weren’t crazy (and still better than trying to negotiate with the dodgy city taxis off the street there) so I did not object, but it was annoying. This appears to be the model in certain cities only which is odd. I do wonder if it’s just the drivers taking a bit extra by filing to revise the trip after each ride?

  23. Uber customer service absolutely sucks. Your first response is AI, and I’ve never experienced a situation where the AI was even close to understanding the problem (maybe it’s thrown off by complete sentences?). If you reply back to the AI-generated response, you’ll be sent to a human who usually provides a better follow-up.

  24. Anyone else find it ironic that the dude who’s nitpicking Lucky’s spelling misspelled the word “definitely” himself???

  25. @Shawn, @Scott – long time readers know that despite your apparent offense at spelling/grammar ‘nitpicking’ Lucky has encouraged and thanked people pointing out errors in the past. He has said he appreciates the heads up so he can fix the problems he misses when proofing his posts.

  26. Lucky, Tiffany, someone: this story didnt show up in our email newsletter, and this is the third time I bring this issue to your attention and it still hasnt gotten fixed. Some stories don’t get included in the newsletter and as a reader I get frustrated to find out that I missed out on a few articles.

    Please fix this mistake as I don’t wanna miss a thing from this amazing blog.

  27. I have had nothing but great response from Uber customer service. I think in the 30 or so challenges I raised over the past few years, only one has been decided in favor of the driver. I’ve even had ride prices zeroed out when that wasn’t what I was asking for… just reporting a driver irregularity.

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