Harry here. In June 2015, I shared an article from Scott Van Maldegiam about his experience being shorted on a few rides and what he did to resolve the problem.
Today, RSG reader and guest poster Jim Miller shares his strikingly similar experiences more than a year later. It’s interesting to note that Scott runs the Uber app on an Android while Jim uses an iPhone 5s. Jim will explain how to avoid being shorted and how to get it resolved if this does happen to you.
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
While Ubering in Los Angeles, I got a ping for a rider with a 1.8 surge price, the highest surge of the night so far. It was a nice 13-mile drive on the I-10 freeway from Santa Monica to Koreatown. I reviewed the trip history a few times later while waiting for another ride. I figured this ride might net about $30 or more, but my recent trip history only showed rides for $10 or less. I checked it again after my shift and this is map of the trip summary.
The duration of the ride seems right, 27 minutes. Per MapQuest, the actual mileage was 13.3, but Uber shows the trip was only 0.58 miles which was based on the first few minutes and the last few minutes of the ride. Whenever you see a straight line, that does not reflect the actual route you took, Uber is not paying you for any of the miles shown with a straight line.
The same thing happened a few rides later:
The first few miles of the ride (starting with the green dot) are pictured correctly on the map, but right before I got to the I-10 freeway, the map shows a straight line. Per MapQuest, the actual miles for this ride was 8.7 miles. The 2.35 miles I was paid for was from the green start icon to just below the I-10 when the line suddenly goes straight.
Why This Happened
As Scott Van Maldegiam told us in the original post, the root cause is your phone’s memory management issues. I use an iPhone5s. Besides the Uber app, I use Google Maps for navigation. I also typically leave Waze running in the background to warn me about traffic hazards (such as red light cameras and police in case I feel a questionable U-turn coming on). The problem is that some of today’s smart phones can’t effectively run three huge apps like these at the same time.
Have you noticed it does not take long for Waze to take a nap once it’s demoted to the background? This makes sense because if Waze has been in the background for a while, once I tap to bring it up as the primary app, the screen does a quick fast forward from where it fell asleep to where I am now. This means that after a few minutes in the background, I can’t count on Waze to warn me about red light cameras or other hazards unless I almost constantly cycle through all my open apps (which is dangerous unless you are stopped).
How To Avoid The Erroneous Straight Line
Follow these three simple steps to avoid getting shorted on your trips:
- When ridesharing, just use the Uber app and your preferred navigation app, turn everything else off.
- As Harry has mentioned many times before, before you start your shift, reboot your phone.
- Spot check your trip history at the end of each shift to ensure that you don’t have any trip maps with straight lines. You only get 48 hours to request a fare review.
Frustration Getting Fare Adjustments
I actually called Uber and explained what happened and they fixed it on the spot. Ok, stop laughing… we all wish it could be that easy.
As Harry has mentioned many times before, when emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with an issue, make it concise. If you have two issues, then write a separate email for each issue. Unfortunately, this issue can’t be explained concisely. Here’s what I did at first, which did not get the problem fixed.
From the driver app, I navigated to the ‘Help’ section, then ‘Trips’ and selected my trip. From there, I asked for a ‘Fare Review’ and told them “I had a different issue with my fare”. I wrote that “The trip was 13.3 miles, not .58 miles, please adjust” which is about as concise as you can be.
I got am email reply saying they need more information. I have learned that “a picture says a thousand words” so I replied with a Word document (stay tuned). It worked, and I received this reply:
I find it interesting that even though this problem is not the rider’s fault, this email implies that the reason we only get 48 hours to report fare adjustments is so that Uber can adjust the rider’s fare. I’ve seen lots of anecdotal evidence that if a rider has a valid complaint (i.e. the driver took an inefficient route) that Uber will gladly fix it in the rider’s favor. For this particular issue, it’s not ethically wrong for Uber to adjust the rider’s fare. I wonder if my rider actually got his fare adjusted? I just think Uber can afford to leave the rider’s fare alone in this situation.
Harry asked me if this was worth the time it took to report it: yes it was. The original fare was only $6.48. the revised fare was $32.94. That’s more than $26 I would have missed out on.
However, the story does not end there. Once I did my $26 victory dance, I wondered if there were other rides where I was underpaid. That’s when I spotted the second trip, which took place about an hour after the first issue (t’s the second map shown above). I forwarded the victory email and referenced how I found a second trip with the same root problem.
This time, I got a reply which was some prewritten gibberish from Bernadita denying my claim as if I was disputing the start and stop times of the second ride. Back to the drawing board. I started over with a whole new email. One thing I had missed even in my first successful dispute was the Trip ID number. It’s not easy to find; you have to dig deep to locate it.
I still can’t find the trip ID from the Uber App in my phone but Uber told me this:
To find the Trip ID, please go to your online dashboard at http://partners.uber.com and click “Trips” on the left-hand side.
The Uber site has changed though so this is no longer accurate. If you have a more concise path, please let us know in the comments below.
I eventually got the second fare changed from $4.22 to $14.79, but it took a lot of time to get the $10 I was shorted.
How to Get Straight Line Fares Adjusted Successfully
I hope you will learn from my experience. If this happens to you try these steps:
Send an email to email@example.com titled “Fare Review” (it’s okay to also include the date of the trip in the title line)
Hello Uber Support,
Please review my Fare Review request on the attached Word document.
Don’t forget to attach the Word document before you send the email.
Why a Word document? I’ve never had much success copy and pasting graphics into an email, but if this works for you, that’s great. A Word document will allow you to copy and paste graphics and maps. If you are proficient with Microsoft Paint, you can copy, crop, and paste images for a professional looking Word document.
Within the Word Document, here’s what I would include:
Trip ID: c73decfa-a4bd-36c2-21459a0049f3
The trip history says this 27-minute ride was only .58 miles, but the actual distance of the trip per MapQuest (map displayed at the bottom of this document) was 13.3 miles.
I figured out what happened. The map displays a straight line for most of the ride. The .58 miles shown for this ride are for the first few minutes and the last few minutes of the ride. The miles represented by the erroneous straight line is about 12 ½ miles and was not counted in the mileage I was paid for.
The starting and stop points are accurate. But no, my car does not have wings; I would have had to fly to take such a direct route.
Harry Campbell The Rideshare Guy solved the mystery; you can read more about competing phone resources and memory which explains why the map shows a direct line here:
Therefore, please change .58 miles to 13.3 miles and adjust the $6.58 fare.
(Addresses modified slightly for privacy)
Bio: Jim Miller is a full time customer service rep for a large utility in Southern California for 27 years. He’s a big fan of San Diego State Basketball (class of 1987) and long suffering fan of Angels Baseball. Jim has been married to his best friend Joanne for 28 years and is the proud father of two talented and successful daughters Rachel, 25, and Megan, 20. He dead heads from the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga 50 miles to Los Angeles and back about 6 weekend nights a month to earn a few extra dollars.
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Drivers, ever been shorted on an Uber fare and how did you handle the reimbursement and dealing with Uber CS?
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