Driving ExperienceUber

How To Avoid Being Shorted On Uber Rides

By June 10, 2015February 10th, 20207 Comments


    I’m not one for conspiracy theories but there are times when Uber does make mistakes.  Today, RSG contributor, Scott Van Maldegiam, shares a situation in which he was actually shorted on a couple Uber rides, how he was able to get the fare adjusted and what you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

    Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing rideshare technology is?  It is definitely mind-blowing, but as with any technology, it is subject to problems now and then.  Recently, I ran into an issue where I thought I had been shorted on a couple of rides.


    What Happened & What I Did To Get It Corrected

    Screenshot_2015-06-08-14-56-58A few weeks ago, I gave a long trip on a 1.5x multiplier.  When I arrived, the total I saw at the completion of the ride seemed low, so I looked up the ride when I got home.  I found that most of the ride had the correct route but the last third was as-the-crow-flies.  It did not follow the route I took.  I decided to start to look at my other rides and noticed a few others that also didn’t show a route with the correct route.  The graphic to the right is one example of a ride where the route suddenly looks like I took flight.

    I wasn’t happy about this so I opened a request by tapping on the “NEED HELP?” box at the bottom of the trip details screen in the Uber Partners app for each ride where I saw this issue.  Since there wasn’t a specific category, I just selected one and filled out the information as best I could explaining the issue.  As with many things in rideshare, if your issue doesn’t fit into a category, that means that the person that reads your email doesn’t know what to do with it and will likely give a canned response.  It took a little diligence to get them to respond specifically to my issue, but they did.

    Related Article: Top 6 Ways To Get Help From Uber

    The results were pretty interesting.  On one of my rides, even though the route shown was not correct, the mileage was correct.  The person couldn’t explain why this was, but we agreed that this was a good thing and agreed that no adjustment was needed.  On the other one (my original request), there was an adjustment of about $10 to the total fare and Uber said they would add it to my next pay statement which is already shown on this weeks Uber pay summary.  While it was a pain to get this fixed, Uber made it about as easy as they could as they had to do some work on their end to determine the correct adjustment.

    Why This Happened

    So why did this happen in the first place?  Three words: memory management issues.  Unless you leave the Uber Partner app as the active app on your phone screen, this can happen to you.  Once you click the button to use navigation, the Uber Partner app becomes a background app once navigation becomes the active app.  If you have a lot of apps that work in the background like I do, these apps compete for memory with the Uber Partner app.  The operating system then has to decide, when it needs more memory, what app to close in order to free up more memory.  Sometimes, the operating system chooses the Uber Partner app.  And unfortunately, there isn’t a way to prioritize apps.

    To make matters worse, I use an Android phone with Lollipop, specifically 5.0.  Android 5.0 has a well documented memory leak that causes the system software to take up more and more memory over time which means there is less memory available for background apps.  It eventually gets to the point where if you are in your navigation app, the Uber Partner app will close as soon as the navigation app becomes the active app.

    While my experience was using an Android phone on 5.0 (memory leak), this doesn’t mean it can’t happen to other Android phones or even… a phone running iOS.  iOS and Android do manage memory differently, but the fundamentals of how an operating system reacts to a low memory situation is fundamentally the same.  The operating system will prioritize allocating memory for active apps over background apps for Android or suspended apps for iOS.  For iOS, if you run into this issue, the best way to avoid it is to use the Uber Partner app in-app navigation.  The in-app navigation isn’t available for Android users.

    Solutions & Workarounds

    There are two solutions to this problem and a couple of workarounds that help to avoid this situation.

    • Android 5.1 has a fix to the memory leak issue.  This software update is available for some devices but not for most.
    • Uber could provide an update that defines a process as a service in order to keep it active.  Currently, as soon as you leave the app, it is categorized as a background app and is subject to be closed.  Or allow you to run Google Maps/Waze from directly inside the Uber app.

    Neither of these solutions are available for most drivers though, so let’s look at what you can do for a workaround::

    • Restart your device at the start of every shift and during every break.  The memory allocated to the system will grow from under 300MB to over 600MB over a day or two. This is a lot of extra memory that could be allocated to apps.
    • Eliminate background apps.  Go into your settings and then apps.  Then slide over to running apps and look at the apps you have running to see if there are any you can do without, especially if you have more than one app doing the same or similar function.  I use Watchdog Lite to see what the status of running apps are.  This app will tell you if an app is running as a Foreground, Visible, Service or Background app.  The apps are prioritized in that order so background apps are the most affected by memory management issues.

    Lyft Provides a Better Workaround

    For Lyft, there is good news and bad news.  First, there isn’t a good way to determine if this is even an issue since Lyft doesn’t show the route taken when looking at trip history.  With that said, if you want to make sure this issue doesn’t happen, there is a setting that will cause the Lyft app to run as a service in the background.  In the settings menu, there is a selection called “Driver Shortcut”.  If you turn this on, it will put a button on your screen that will take you back to the Lyft app by tapping it while in a different application.  By turning this feature on, Lyft now runs as a service which isn’t as likely to be turned off by the operating system.  It isn’t a guaranteed solution, but it is better than the Uber Partner app at preventing this issue from occurring.

    In general, it pays to be diligent and detailed.  If something doesn’t seem quite right with the fare, check the route on the Uber portal and do the calculation yourself.  If the fare is incorrect, ask Uber for help.  As with any customer service department, it might take a try or two to get what you deserve.  In my experience, Uber has always wanted to make things right when it is black and white situation like this type of situation.

    Remember to be nice.  It is very easy to be annoyed when you feel Uber isn’t paying you what they should.  Give them the opportunity to fix the situation before you get mad.  You will be surprised how much quicker your problem gets fixed when you approach them in a nice way asking “can you help fix this issue”.  Also, provide detail.  You probably won’t have room in the initial request, but once you receive the first email, you can then provide additional information.  Make it easy for them to see what is wrong.

    Have you run into this issue before?  What other technical issues have you had?  Please share with us and other readers.

    Earn $25-$45 Per Hour With Instacart!

    Instacart is hiring like crazy right now and offering many perks and benefits to drivers. 

    Why become an Instacart Shopper?
    - Get paid to shop
    - Work whenever you want
    - Get paid FAST

    Click here to sign up and start ASAP.

    Get started as a gig worker today! Learn more:
    - Is driving for Doordash worth it?
    - Postmates Driver Pay
    - Instacart Shopper Pay
    - Uber Eats Driver Review
    - Best food delivery service to work for
    - Rideshare insurance

    -Scott @ RSG

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    I'm Scott, a full time health benefits consultant and rideshare driver. I spent 11 years working for Motorola and Tellabs using my EE degree and MBA before transitioning into the mortgage industry where I spent 6 years. I then spent 5 years in the cycling industry before transitioning into health insurance.