Vomit fraud as it has come to be known as, has received a lot of media attention in the last few weeks due to the number of Uber and Lyft passengers claiming they were scammed out of hundreds of dollars.
Uber and Lyft both have terms of service in place in which the passenger agrees to pay clean-up fees to help protect the drivers and their vehicles from any accidents that may take place during the course of their ride. This fee is based on national industry averages.
However, some drivers are taking advantage of this policy and staging vomit in order to collect the clean-up fees. The fee ranges from $20 which covers light cleaning and vacuuming to $150 that is allotted for more serious accidents that include body fluids, blood and urine.
Previously, the Uber insurance policy was a $250 fee regardless of the severity of the accident.
The current policy requires drivers to document proof of the alleged incident within three business days and send it to the company through their app. The company then reviews the claim, determines the severity and issues the driver the clean-up fee. The passenger’s account is charged without being notified to be able to disprove the claim.
Passenger claims range from not having been in the car at the time of the incident to being in the car but not being sick during their trip.
When a customer feels wrongly charged, they can dispute the claim but getting a refund from these rideshare companies has proven to be difficult. A common sentiment is that companies tend to favor their drivers as opposed to passengers that feel taken advantage of.
There needs to be a clean-up policy in place to protect driver vehicles from legitimate damages. However, there has to be a more passenger-friendly approach. Uber has a current F rating from the Better Business Bureau due to the number of complaints the company has received and the lack of response to a high number of complaints.
Perhaps, Uber and Lyft should notify the passenger before charging their account to legitimize the claim. This process would be a lot simpler than having the customer disprove the claim only after their account has been charged and then having to go through a reimbursement process. Time stamped proof would also be beneficial, especially for passengers that claim to not have been in the car at the time.
However, these do create an inconvenience for drivers who are honest in reporting claims. Drivers would not have a relatively fast solution while arbitration takes place. If they do not have to funds to cover the expense out front, they would also be losing out on driving time as they can not accept rides with a filthy car.
To make sure you are not a victim of vomit fraud, be sure to check your credit card statements after using ride share companies and report any discrepancies.