Uber Introduces $15 Fee To Return Lost Items

Filed Under: Uber

A bit over a month ago, Uber announced that they were planning on making some major changes for their drivers, which they referred to as “180 Days Of Change.” This follows their former CEO stepping down, and the company having generally gone from a beloved underdog trying to revolutionize transportation, to a company that many began protesting.

Uber rolled out in-app tipping in 120+ countries earlier this month, which will hopefully help drivers earn more money.

But the company is committed to making more changes, and they’ve just announced their most recent change that should help drivers.

Uber has introduced a $15 fee for a driver to return a lost item to a passenger. They were trialing this in some US cities for a while, but the policy has now been rolled out nationwide. This is a logical and long overdue change.

Prior to this there was technically no fee to return a lost item to a passenger, and the policy was that the driver and passenger should find a mutually convenient place to meet. At the same time the driver didn’t have an incentive to return that item quickly. I think the assumption is that someone would tip in the case of a lost item, though I imagine some people were cheap and didn’t.

I’m not sure a fixed fee to return a lost item is necessarily the fairest solution, though. That’s more than fair if this is realized a few minutes after a ride ends, while it’s not fair if this is realized a day later, and the driver lives 50 miles away. You’d think the fee would be whatever the ride would have cost for the driver to return the item. But then again, I realize that’s very much open to being gamed.

Anyway, this is a common sense improvement that gives drivers an incentive to actually return items, so hopefully it’s mutually beneficial.

What do you make of Uber adding a fee to return lost items?

(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)

  1. “…though I imagine some people were cheap…”

    Please do not use ‘cheap’ to describe non-tippers. Somebody retrieving a lost item may forgo the tip due to

    1. forgetfulness stemming from stress over losing the item.
    2. cultural misunderstanding.
    3. lack of cash on hand.
    4. other reasons.

    Tipping is cancer to society. Please do not exacerbate the problem by shaming non-tippers.

  2. Over 500 journeys on Uber and this will not be an issue for me as I have never left anything behind because I take an extra 10 secs of my life to ensure nothing has been left behind.

  3. Hmmm…. in some part of the world returning a left over item would be a simple courtesy or norm. But considering the culture of tipping is compulsory (even tough service is just average or borderline awful) in USA, I think its understandable you taught this was logical and long overdue.

    Just another way to capitalize service ….

  4. Ridiculous, people are not leaving things on purpose. Besides we still have every right to call the Police in the UK if they keep an item which doesn’t belong to them, whether or not it was left intentionally. So what if someone refuses to pay the $15 but instead calls the police (the right thing to do as far as the law goes)? What do Uber plan to do? I’ve touchwood never left anything, but if I did and the driver didn’t return the item FOC I wouldn’t hesitate to call the police. Besides they are already earning a ridiculous amount for driving a car, I drive for hours and no I don’t expect to be compensated for it, taxi drivers are lucky as it is!

  5. I have left items in Uber (asia) a couple of times. There are no policies.
    But naturally I payed the drivers. They never asked for anything, but I payed well.
    Anyone that would leave to the driver the cost of returning the item YOU forgot, is cheap, cheap, cheap.

    Only mistake Ben did in calling them cheap, is not calling them CHEAP!

  6. I left a sweater in an Uber in Las Vegas, realized it a couple of minutes later, and our wonderful driver not only returned it right away, she also refused any extra payment. With a mandatory $15 fee, Uber is starting to resemble the customer service model of airlines.

  7. @Mark — so it’s not enough for your ego that you are such a generous person. You must supplement your generosity with insults to those who are not generous (which you admit since ‘there are no policies’) is fully within their rights to do.

  8. @PSL
    The driver doesn’t have to report it if she doesn’t want to. They have to manually file a claim to Uber.

  9. It’s absolutely the right thing to do. Do the people commenting against it believe that the driver (sometimes not even making minimum wage) should forgo earning money and burn their gas to correct your mistake and not get paid for it? If you left an item at McDonalds or Target, would you expect the cashier to drive it back to you and not pay them for it? It’s sad that this had to be introduced, but the truth is a lot of people were not paying their drivers to stay offline and drive their items back to them.

  10. $15 is cheap. I imagine phones are a common item to leave behind. My wife once left her fancy purse with phone and wallet and the driver called me and returned everything. He drove about 20 miles to return it at 2 am. I gave him $100.

  11. If uber is a ride sharing, why is there someone bringing up issue of minimum wage? Wage is between employee and employer. If uber driver is an employee, what difference does it make between uber driver and taxi driver?

  12. @K4 – Are you suggesting that in the U.K. a driver would be legally required to go out of their way to return an item you forgot? I can’t imagine that’s true. As long as the driver will let you come pick up the item, it’s not theft. So either get off your ass and go pick your item up wherever the driver sees fit, or pay for the delivery service.

  13. Bring Travis back! Uber is seriously going downhill with these “enhancements.”

    And “many” people are not protesting. Just a handful of people with nothing better to do. Ask your drivers. 95% of the ones who drive for both companies will tell you they prefer driving for Uber because of the larger footprint and more frequent rides.

    Fully agree with @Jason. ESPECIALLY when Uber was founded on “NO TIPPING!”

  14. Met my brother in MSP last Thursday, and we shared a Uber to his house. 20 minutes later he noticed he didn’t have his suit coat; left it at on hanger in the back. After hassle getting to driver, he dropped coat off, and brother gave him $40.
    So how to do it now ?

  15. @Jason if you don’t wanna tip that’s fine but I wouldn’t return your item to you as an Uber driver for free. It’s your own fault for leaving something behind if you want me to make myself available to return something that you forgot on my own dime I’d say oh well. And then return your phone to Uber so you can retrieve it directly from them and I don’t have to worry about you.

  16. @Jason
    Is it your right? I have not seen a policy that the driver must return the item. If you dont want to pay, he should ask you to come to him and collect it yourself.
    The personal insults, im not gonna comment.

  17. @Mark — I’m not sure what the Uber policy is. Certainly if I lost, say, my wallet on the subway and somebody finds it, I’m going to make the trip to their place at my own expense.

    To be perfectly clear:

    I am 100% in favor of renumeration for the driver’s time and effort in getting my lost item back to me.

    I am 100% against the notion of said renumeration coming in the form of a tip.

  18. In some parts of the world tipping is actually considered an insult. But, thanks in large part to western influences, that is changing.
    Case in point, when I was in Japan 10 years ago, it was still unheard of to give a tip. But when I was there last year, I found more places where the service staff where expecting it.

    In any case, when I’ve forgotten an item in a taxicab, I’ve always reimbursed the drive the cost to bring it back to me, and a little extra.

  19. Emirates4Ever – Please don’t mix up Western and American. While American tipping is certainly beginning to infect the the West, it’s a rather big insult to lump the rest of us in with that uncivilised cesspit!

  20. I have no problem paying $15 or even more to get my phone back if I left it in an UBER.

    The inconvenience of loosing a phone is worse than $15.

  21. @callum
    Emirates4Ever certainly only mention western and not whatsoever wrote american. Only arrogant and idiotic american associates western automatically with american, which evidently you are.

  22. @tda

    Well no, if they notice it within say 4 miles (or so) of leaving, they ideally should come back. If they knowingly continue in the wrong direction and know they have your possession I can assure you UK law is on your side. $15 flat rate delivery is also unfair to the driver, I’ve met uber drivers from Luton and I live in West London. That is low compensation for the driver in that case. I don’t object to a delivery fee, i.e. nobody realises the item is gone until the driver is 40 miles away.
    Bear in mind that people usually leave things in taxis when they are travelling. I’ve had two experiences of items lost in cabs. In the 90s, in a licenced Paris taxi my father left a phone in a taxi, the driver returned it around 10 mins after drop off. Another time at a friends wedding in Singapore a friend left a phone in an Uber, when he got in touch with Uber the driver refused to return it, refused to let the person come and pick it up, my friend offered to pay him, still no, only when he threatened police intervention did he drop it off at the hotel and obviously my friend didn’t tip the guy. In the real world $15 won’t fix the problem.

  23. @K4.

    I presume you are referring to Bailment? Where is there a legal obligation for someone to pay the costs of/ arrange for your item coming back to you? Did you sign a contract to that effect? Bailment /contract it is a civil matter anyway so why would you be calling the police? It’s not theft and you are simply wasting police time and money.

  24. I don’t get it. You have my property in your car. You admit you have it. You will charge me a fee to give it back? That’s illegal, pure and simple. You may not hold another person’s property for ransom. You must return it to its rightful owner, whether it’s “convenient” for you or not.

    Delivering the item across town is another story. That’s a service, for which standard Uber rates should apply. The app could coordinate this.

    Uber will get into trouble with this one. You can’t hold others’ property for ransom. You don’t have to deliver it for free, but if I’m willing to travel to meet the driver (or pay him to travel to me) he has to give me my stuff. If he demands $15 I’ll report the extortion to police.

  25. I hope I don’t get seated next to the people who are up in arms over $15 to get your stuff (that’s presumably worth more than $15 to you) brought back to you. The other day I left my dinner leftovers in a Lyft, but I didn’t call because already 10 minutes had passed before I realized it. It was almost worth it to pay $15 to have them returned. It was a really good meal.

  26. @DenB “I’m willing to travel to meet the driver (or pay him to travel to me) he has to give me my stuff. If he demands $15 I’ll report the extortion to police.”… So you’re willing to pay him, but not $15? WTF are you even trying to say?

  27. As an Uber driver this is a fee that only applies if I as the Driver deliver the item to you at a mutually agreed place. As a rider if you come to me to collect your item there is no fee, or if I drop your lost item at an Uber office and you collect it there there is also no fee.

    @K4 Let me ask you this if you left an item at a restaurant or bar and didn’t realize it until after you returned to your house, would you expect the establishment to send an employee with your item to your house? I wouldn’t, I would call them the next day to verify they had my item and go out of my way to collect it. So why should leaving something in an Uber be any different?

    Also there are plenty of scenarios that would have a driver miles away from you once the item is found, for example, I drive a passenger from LHR to the Savoy, he leaves item in car when I cant see it from the drivers seat. I leave the Savoy and get a call at the Hilton Park Lane that passenger is going to LHR, s/he gets in to the car the trip is begun and the passengers notices your item. So do you expect the Driver to do:

    A. Wait to start the ride for the new passenger in the car so the driver can contact you wait for your to reply then drive back to the Savoy to drop off the item then proceed to LHR with the new passenger which by now has missed their flight.

    B. Continue with the new passenger to LHR, then report the item lost to Uber, turn off the app and begin to drive back to the Savoy in the hopes that you will reply to the driver and/or that you are still at the Savoy.

    C. Continue with the new passenger to LHR, then report the item lost to Uber, continue taking new passengers, until you reply, which could place you in miles away from the Savoy, then at the drivers cost of lost revenue, gas, time, and wear and tear on vehicle, return the item to you.

    D. continue with the new passenger to LHR then report the Item lost to Uber, Continue taking new passengers, until either you reply or the driver passes an Uber office where they leave the item for your retrieval.

    If you say A or B you deserve the low rating you already have. If C, your at best inconsiderate of others time. If D, you might be a decent person.

  28. I don’t understand how anyone thinks a driver should be required to go out of his/her way to return your lost item. Sure, they cannot keep the item or prevent you from reclaiming it, but they don’t have to deliver it to you.

  29. When they first come into service, uber drives go above and beyond to satisfy customer satisfaction. Thus everybody loved them, taxi driver and taxi company in protest all around the world.

    Now beside surcharge, there’s also tip which driver’s felt they’re entitled to. Not giving tip may decrease your rating as passenger.

    So what’s the difference now?

  30. Cab receipts in Boston have a number on them that is part of their police force and will arrange with you to get your stuff.

  31. @Evan
    No, I am referring to Handling stolen goods, which is not a civil matter at all. Section 22 (1) of the Theft Act 1961.

    ‘A person handles stolen goods if (otherwise than in the course of stealing), knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he dishonestly receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.’

    As mentioned before, if the driver knowingly holds on to the goods which are now not in the possesion of the rightful owner, he is committing a contrivance of the above Act.

    Wasting police time is a grossly overused and misused term, an airline calling police to enforce their revenue protection is a waste, someone refusing to return something which belongs to you is not.

    The point wasn’t really to explain the legal aspect (I am qualified to practice Law in the UK), but I hope all doubt as to whether or not my previous point was correct (that in the UK it is indeed illegal to knowingly hold on to something which you know is someone else’s possession).

    As for the driver offering to meet at a mutually convenient location, I can tell you from experience there would be a number of factors involved in the eyes of a UK court. Frankly most would be in favour of the owner of the item. For example, if the owner of the telephone had to leave for a flight 4 hours after discovering the item is with the driver, the driver did not live exorbitantly far away from where the owner of the phone was (I’d give a qualified guess that this would be up to 30 miles in the London area), and the driver flat out refused to return it in a four hour time frame and there was no extenuating circumstance (traffic jam, emergency, etc.) the driver would indeed be liable for a contrivance of the Above-mentioned Act. However, if the owner of the phone was in town for a few days and the driver agreed to meet at a mutually convenient location (again this would be in the favour of the owner of the phone, for example if they did not have a car in a place they were travelling to, a train/tube station would be suitable, a motorway service centre would not) and the a) owner of the phone was adamant that the phone be delivered to his door and b) did not suggest any other ‘reasonable’ alternative, the driver would not be guilty or aquitted of the above contrivance. The reason I highlight reasonable, is because this is not what you are I think is reasonable, there are plenty of related precedence that detail what is and is not reasonable (such as the 30 mile point). Do take the time to look them up if you are interested.

    @ SEADriver
    See my reply to Evan to detail the point of law, of which you should be aware. It might not be totally fitting to what I think is right, but law precedes my opinions, and it should yours too.

    I would chose option C personally if it was up to me, and as long as the owner of the lost item is still in town when you are able to drop it back, the law would also see this as reasonable.
    One thing I will say though “lost revenue, gas, time, and wear and tear on vehicle” apart from the lost revenue/time (same thing?), the rest are way less in expense than Uber fares so seriously do take a look at what a lucky position you are in to be earning £30+ an hour for just driving your car. Oh and if the owner of the item earns more than £30 an hour then your claim for lost revenue would be moot in court.

  32. @K

    If you leave your wallet at a restaurant, YOU have to go back to collect it and no court in the world would force them to deliver it to you.

    Same with uber, the driver could just drop it off at a uber office and you have to collect it from there, you cant force them to deliver it to you, same with leaving your wallet on a bus or train or at any services.

  33. @AG

    Great that you say that but the relevant laws and experience is quoted above, what exactly tells you that the law is the other way around?
    Are you seriously trying to tell me that the Acts I’ve quoted are somehow overridden by what you think.
    If you are in possession of something which is not yours, without consent, that’s theft plain and simple.
    If you don’t make sufficient efforts to return it you are handling stolen goods.
    What laws are you referring to?

  34. @AG

    Oh and you’re absolutely right, no court will force you, or even suggest you to go and return it but if you don’t they will slap a handling stolen goods conviction on you, so you got one thing right.

  35. I left a bag in the backseat of a Lyft once in Oakland. I was tired, wrestling 3 bags, and just forgot it. The driver had crossed into San Francisco before he and I each figured it out. He asked for $40 which I gladly handed over because the bag contained essential medication. Lesson learned.

  36. There have been numerous times when passengers have left items in my car. Several times it has been a phone. I value my phone and most people do too, so I make an effort to return it ASAP. Even going offline for several minutes, which could be lost income. I believe every single time I’ve returned a phone, they’ve tipped me $20. I don’t think they would tip for most other items (apart from wallets or something really expensive or important).

    However, a driver does not have to waste time or money to return an item to you. Simply returning it to an Uber office or to your drop off location next time they are in the area should be fine.

    Someone forgetting or losing an item in your car doesn’t make it ‘stolen goods’ … it is simply an inconvenience to all parties involved and it should be the responsibility of the owner to make it right or pick it up themeselves on their own dime and their own time.

  37. One big problem: Uber doesn’t have 24/7 drop-offs for drivers to drop things off at the Uber office.
    So this means if you have a night driver and need your stuff the next day, there’s no way for the driver to drop off at night… and your night driver has gone to sleep until he wakes up at 8 p.m. for his night shift. Or maybe your night driver lives out of town because Uber honestly pays terribly to live off of, so the driver lives outside the city but comes into the city to drive passengers for pay… in other words, you’re not necessarily going to get your stuff back as quick as you hope.

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