Are Uber drivers scamming customers with so-called ‘cleaning fees'?

You make a mess in an Uber and expect to pay up. But what if that stain on the seat wasn’t your fault and you’re the one being charged? Over the last few days, we’ve heard complaints from Uber riders being charged for messes they claim they did not make. 

In one instance, it involved an ABC15 producer. 

A 4-mile ride in an Uber at 6 p.m. on a weekend originally for $9 came as a shock to him when he received an email stating he was being charged nearly $90 to clean up a mess left behind in an Uber. 

Along with it came a photo of the alleged mess.  

Our producer disputed the claim, saying the stain looked like it had been there for months — if not years — before and that they did not bring any liquids on the ride.

After hours of back and forth with Uber, Uber refunded his money. But cases like these aren’t uncommon. 

A quick Google search of Uber Cleaning Fee scams will come back with several hits. 

The Better Business Bureau in San Francisco that investigated Uber complaints says the company has an "F" rating for having over 2,411 worldwide complaints; 1,324 of them unanswered. Two hundred of those are for cleaning fees and 61 percent of those have gone unanswered by Uber. 

For their part, an Uber spokesperson said they are always looking for better ways to serve their riders. 

…We recognize there are challenges for our support teams to look into these types of situations and so we are enhancing out internal processes and investing in additional resources when investigating cleaning fee claims…

Uber also says they have a very specific review process and are actively looking for drivers who are committing fraud. They also say that not every refund should be considered fraud.

Uber states the cleaning fee is there to help compensate drivers for any inconvenience a spill or damage to the car might have on them. Drivers must submit pictures and description of the mess as soon as possible.

To protect yourself, treat a rideshare like any other rental. 

Take pictures before and after the ride to refute any claim made against you. After all, it is your word against theirs.  

Also, be as detailed as possible when describing the ride and your experience including where you sat in the car in relation to the “mess” when working with Uber’s 24/7 customer service. 

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