Imagine this scenario. You book an Uber, quoted at $7.23. You accept, receive your ride, the trip ends, you add a $2 tip for the driver, and you go about your day. Then you receive your receipt and it says $16.46.
This situation has been happening across the U.S. lately, and passengers are getting upset.
- Passengers are being overcharged for trips – and the reasons cannot be attributed to surge, distance, etc.
- Drivers have noticed a big difference in what passengers are charged and what drivers are receiving
- Uber is aware of this issue and says it will refund passengers
Is Uber Overcharging Passengers?
One such passenger shared the following screenshot of their receipt on Reddit:
Those numbers don’t add up to $23.52. Here’s how the math appears to be shaking out:
6.74 + 0.27 + 3.25 = 10.26
Then, you double that—for some reason—to get $20.52. Finally, add the tip for the driver at the end for the grand total of $23.52.
The real question mark here is where is that doubling coming from and why? Below, we’ll break down the possible reasons behind why this is happening.
While this isn’t happening to drivers, one thing we’ve noticed on some of the Reddit posts are passengers thinking drivers are somehow overcharging them and keeping the ‘extra money’ for themselves.
This could be detrimental to driver tips, and even lead to more driver hostility. If you’re a passenger who sees you’ve been charged $50 for a $25 ride, why would you leave a tip at all? Wouldn’t you be angry, or at least annoyed, about what happened?
If passengers are going to be charged more, at least explain why and let some of that money go into drivers’ pockets.
Note: According to passengers on Reddit, Uber support is aware of this issue and has told customers they will be refunded the charges. According to an Uber spokesperson, “there was a small service interruption that created this outage, but over the last 24 hours the team has been working around the clock to resolve [it] and have successfully refunded the vast majority impacted.”
Why Uber Could Be Overcharging Passengers
Restrictions were put in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Now, these restrictions are starting to loosen, so passengers are going out more often, but they are finding it more and more difficult to find drivers.
This is due to a number of factors, which I will briefly touch on before diving into my Uber doubling passenger payments theory. For one thing, drivers are able to receive unemployment benefits plus the $300 a week extra federal payment, which has been extended until September. In a lot of cases, that is more money than they’d make on the road PLUS the added benefit of not being exposed to Covid on a regular basis.
Now for the theory. Uber is offering high bonuses in a lot of markets right now because of this lack of drivers and the influx of passenger requests. Here’s an example of a bonus my husband was offered this week:
To break this down, he’s being offered an extra $100 simply by driving 3 passengers at any point during the two-week stretch between March 17 and March 29. In addition, he’s being offered his Quest bonuses, where if he completes 70 trips between Friday and Monday, he’ll get an extra $470, which is an extra $6.71 per trip.
These bonuses for drivers are great, don’t get me wrong. However, Uber is still not profitable yet, and the pandemic has not helped things. So where is this money coming from?
Is the Extra Money Going to Drivers?
Some Redditors have a theory that their tip is being added onto. They add a tip and magically Uber charges them a second time for the trip plus tip but gives all of that to the driver.
I don’t think that’s the case, and here’s why. A couple of weeks ago, we had a driver reach out and say they were looking at their earnings and things didn’t add up. The amount the passenger paid did not equal what the driver received plus what Uber took. Instead, the amount the driver received and what Uber took were more than what the customer’s side of things added up to.
Here’s what the driver saw on their side of the app:
So, let’s do the math here again. The customer paid $14.17—or so this says. Uber got a total of $9.67, third-parties got $0.18 and the driver received $12.21. If you add what was paid to Uber, the third-parties and the driver, you get a total of $22.06. That’s not right.
I would be very curious to see the customer’s receipt to see if it differs in any way – and if it was ever corrected.
It could be this is all just a misunderstanding and a mistake that their system has been making since their last update, and they are working on it. This is more or less what they have been telling customers, and this makes the most sense.
Uber’s app has been glitchy before – we’ve all experienced it. It just rarely seems to happen on the passenger side, and go on for several days. I’d be curious to hear from Uber how they will notify passengers who were overcharged – will they just refund them quietly?
Check Your Passenger (And Driver) Receipts
No matter how you slice it, this is odd.
Just scrolling through Reddit, I found four other cases that different passengers have reported and no one posted anything about Uber refunding them that extra amount they were charged. Even more oddly, the amount they’ve been overcharged is always double (minus tip).
All of the receipts people posted show the receipt with the overcharge, but no explanation for why the fare was doubled. Here’s another one:
Take the subtotal, subtract the pass discount, plus the booking fee and you get half of what the customer was charged and then add the tip on at the end. It’s the same formula. It’s a double charge with no explanation for why it’s being doubled.
My advice is if you are a passenger and you notice this issue, report it to Uber. It could simply be where enough people are shrugging it off right now that they don’t even know it’s a widespread issue. If something is off, report it. Get your money back.
Drivers, take a look at your receipts. Have you noticed a big difference in what passengers are paying and what you’re receiving? Have any passengers said anything?
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