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How Uber Drivers Can Charge You More than the Quoted Fare

I recently wrote about how Uber is no longer disclosing when surge price is going on.  So you now pay Uber surge pricing without realizing it.

The upside is that Uber discloses the entire price of your ride ahead of time.  You won’t be surprised when the ride ends because you know upfront how much it will cost.

Uber app pick up

In essence, you are agreeing to the fare now instead of agreeing to the rate.

But that fare isn’t 100% guaranteed.  A reader’s recent experience highlights how Uber drivers can adjust that fare afterward.

The Story

She took a late night Uber ride, and the Uber driver didn’t follow his app’s instructions.

He made a wrong turn that took him way out off the path.

You can see the first detour in the original receipt below.

Uber receipt before uber overcharge

Closer to the destination (which I blocked out for privacy reasons), the Uber driver took another wrong turn.  This wrong turn put him on the wrong end of the one-way street the rider lives on.

He hemmed and hawed about being on the wrong end of the street, so the rider finally offered to get out there and just walk to her building from the car.

He then asked if she was going to give him a low-star rating since he didn’t follow the Uber app instructions and she said that she just wanted to get home.

She received the receipt above afterwards.

The next day, she looked at the actual receipt she received in her email and realized there was a discrepancy.

uber receipt uber overcharge

The fare was suddenly higher.  As she read through the receipt, she saw the message “your fare reflects the time and distance you traveled rather than the destination you entered”.

This means something specific.  The Uber driver reported that she requested to be dropped off in a different location from the one she originally inputted.  This makes her initial quoted fare invalid, and instead bases the fare on the miles driven (plus whatever the surge happens to be–none in this case).

There are two things wrong with this in this specific situation:

  1. Her trip was much longer due to the Uber driver not following his app
  2. She got out of the car at a different destination because the Uber driver brought her to the wrong destination

Ultimately, she contacted Uber and explained the situation.  Luckily, they can see the route the driver took and refunded the difference in fare.  If she didn’t pay attention to this, she would have had a big Uber overcharge.

What this means for you

Make sure your emailed receipts match the fares you saw on your phone.  If they don’t, try to figure out why they don’t match.

In this specific case, her issue had a quick fix, but she had to notice there was a problem first.

If your driver takes a strange route or subtly suggests you leave the car a little early, be especially vigilant.

This is the good thing about being quoted a fare ahead of time.  When a driver takes you out of your way, you aren’t paying extra for that distance.  The only way a driver can get you to pay more is to mark you as going to a different destination–which is what the driver did in this case.

Uber will fix this issue for you.  You just need to make sure you notice it in the first place.

Edit:  I just want to edit to clarify that some drivers might not realize what they are doing when they report a different drop off location.  From the whole story in this specific situation, I’m more hesitant to give this  specific driver credit, but it is possible that drivers will do this without realizing it will charge you more.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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8 comments

  1. I’ve had multiple issues returning to Manhattan from EWR. Drivers will drop you off and then not end the trip and go back through the tunnel, collecting the extra $20 for the return toll and ending the trip back in NJ.

  2. I’m a fan of your blog and respect your opinion completely. As a part-time driver, I have to admit I’m tired of Uber drivers being vilified constantly. I know there are some corrupt drivers out there, just like there are in any population of people. But there are a couple things that people should keep in mind when deciding whether to get upset at their driver: 1. Uber’s GPS is usually great, but sometimes very flawed. I know that I’m an honest person and would never intentionally cheat a passenger. But sometimes Uber’s GPS is wrong, unclear, or glitchy, and we end up in situations where our passengers get upset, even though we’re doing our best. 2. Consider what your driver is earning. If it’s less than a dollar per mile after Uber’s 25% cut, as many trips are, your driver is making minimum wage at best after costs. Not saying this gives drivers the right to cheat, but it does give them the right to a little respect/mercy when a trip is unintentionally imperfect. Sorry for the novel!

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Don’t apologize for the length! It’s all really helpful.

      I’ve personally had a few incidents myself with Uber in the past. Just a few.

      Taxis, on the other hand, have been pretty awful for me constantly.

      So I do trust Uber drivers more than taxis, and I don’t want to go back to a pre-Uber world!

  3. I had same problem with driver charging for a return toll. I JD to notice but Uber gave me credit. I just now always check my costs for long rides.

    The other thing is Drivers claim they have to use Uber’s GPS app and the app always takes more time and more turns as that’s how they make money on UberX time and distance.

  4. You must have run out of things to write about or are very ignorant about how Uber works. Uber is not a fixed fare sort of thing, you are essentially running on a virtual meter that runs depending on where you are on distance AND time. So you get an uber estimate, that means NOTHING. You can be stuck in traffic pile on the charges. This is nothing new, this has always been the case for Uber.

    Now how you should phrase this article should be rather about Uber drivers not taking the most expedient route, which happens sometimes. And when you end the job, just rate it lower and which allows you to then send them a message about what the problem is. This is quickest way to get attention about your ride, if you send a separate email after it goes back into the system and dont expect a response anytime soon.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      That’s Uber’s old model. Within the last month and a half, they moved to an upfront fare model:

      http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/06/24/surge-pricing-uber/

      “Upfront fares are calculated using the expected time and distance of the trip and local traffic, as well as how many riders and nearby drivers are using Uber at that moment. ”

      If you don’t change your destination, then you get the upfront fare. If you change your destination, you are charged time and distance. So with the upfront rates, the driver taking a less expedient route does not affect your fare at all.

  5. Jay you are an idiot. Do some research before you post rude comments.

  6. Uber drivers shouldn’t follow Uber’s in-app GPS as it’s not always the fastest route. This posted example is an example of a driver getting lost (which Uber will refund in a follow-up message to support), but often drivers will use apps such as Waze to find the FASTEST route for their passengers. Implying that Uber drivers should use the app explicitly infers that Uber’s GPS is the best tool for drivers (which it isn’t).

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