5 min read

    5 min read

    What happens when Uber won’t pay you what you’re owed? It’s unfortunately more common than you might think. RSG contributor Paula Gibbins interviewed one driver about his experience – and how he got paid back by Uber.

    As drivers we oftentimes have to blindly accept whatever Uber or Lyft tells us when it comes to what we should be earning on our trips, according to their standards and rate cards. But what happens when we catch them in the act of not paying us what is owed?


    One driver caught Uber not giving them their flat-rate surge price several times and only got Uber to pay them for 5 instances that he was able to prove thanks to screen shots. The rest were dismissed because of insufficient evidence because, let’s face it, it’s difficult to take screen shots constantly while driving.

    Flat Rate Surge Issues

    The driver in question, we’ll call him Peter (he wished to remain anonymous), would open his Uber app, see that there was a surge and drive toward it. Remember, he’s on the new Uber flat rate surge system, so the strategy is a little different.

    Once he was within the hot zone, he’d go online, where it still showed a surge to await his first passenger request to come through. Several times, he’d get the request without it showing the surge that he was seeing at the time.

    How surge looked to this driver

    How Uber’s Surge Appeared on this Driver’s Screen

    When Peter noticed this was happening, he tried contacting Uber to get his share of the surge. In some instances, Uber responded asking for more information, such as the time, date, rider name, etc. so they could determine if there was a surge in the area at the time. There were times when they said he would not be receiving a surge because he wasn’t owed one based on the information they saw.

    Related: What to Do When Uber Stiffs You

    When that happened, Peter decided to start taking screen shots so he’d have solid evidence he was owed his surge. He took screen shots when he arrived within the surge zone before going online, after going online and once his first request came through without showing the appropriate surge. Later, he compared that information to what he was actually paid for the trip. If it didn’t show a surge payment, he would send that information to Uber to try to get the surge price he was owed.

    “Drivers need to do their due diligence when it comes to checking their pay statements,” said Peter. “It’s boring and drags you down, but we need to check Uber’s math.”

    Problems Getting Reimbursed with Uber

    By checking this, Peter found out he’d not been receiving all the surge money he was supposed to be getting. When talking to support, he often got the run-around.

    Peter explained, “I received a different answer each time I called them to find out why I wasn’t picking up the surge pricing. There were times I wouldn’t get when I first entered the surge, and there were times when I wouldn’t get it while driving through the surge, and there were times that I was right on top of the highest price in the surge area and I didn’t get it.”

    Excuses Uber gave him for not receiving the surge ranged from “We don’t have enough information” to “You can’t turn off your app, go into a zone and then turn it back on again” and it goes on from there. Even when he gave the date, time and location, they would say there was not enough information and that he needed to remember the rider’s name for them to find the correct trip. Peter’s impression was, “They just make stuff up to get you off the phone.”

    Peter said that one time he even got this response from Uber phone support, “I don’t know, it’s too loud in here, I can’t hear you, goodbye.”

    After all that mess, Peter decided it might be more beneficial to visit his local Greenlight Hub to see if he could get some answers and get the surge pricing he should have received. He asked them to do a full analysis of his account to see if there were any issues there or glitches that needed to be addressed. He was told that was something they could not do. They could not analyze individual driver’s accounts like that.

    However, after visiting his hub and handing over his information on the rides where he didn’t receive his surge price and giving them information on how he was treated by Uber phone support, he hasn’t noticed any issues recently.

    My Thoughts

    There was obviously some issue with either the app or Peter’s account but Uber never did fully explain what was going on. If you’re on the new flat rate surge, the app will show you a flat rate at the bottom of the screen for your next trip as shown below:

    image of flat rate surge

    An example of what you can expect with flat rate surge

    But even though Peter was in a surge area, his app wasn’t showing a flat rate surge amount on the next trip. No matter what, it is important to keep an eye on your earnings. If something looks fishy, especially if an issue is recurring, do what you can to get the evidence you need to bring it up to Uber so you can try to get it resolved and get the money you have rightfully earned. For issues like this, I’d advise going straight to an Uber Greenlight center and explaining the situation so you can get paid.

    After all, Peter did get paid back for 5 instances after visiting his Greenlight Hub. He was able to prove those were not paid when they should have been by providing adequate proof in the form of screenshots he’d tediously taken while on his trips. It’s better to try than to let money you’re owed go unpaid.

    Readers, has this happened to you and you did not receive the amount reflected on your app? Let us know in the comments below.

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    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.

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