Did Uber Get This Right?

by Miguel R. Quinones


Let me preface this by saying that I really like Uber. I do not get to use it that much because it is not available where I live, but every time I travel I try to use Uber as much as possible. All my interactions with Uber had been positive until a recent trip to Hong Kong.

I requested an Uber to get from our hotel to the airport. I was traveling with my wife and daughter and we had a lot of luggage, plus a stroller, so I requested an uberVan. I had been standing at the lobby of our hotel like an idiot for about ten minutes waiting for our a van to arrive until I realize that the sedan that was parked right in front of the hotel entrance was our Uber.

The driver tried to explain why he had showed up in a different vehicle-type, but I could not understand him. Frankly, I did not care about his explanation. If I am requesting a specific vehicle type, I expect that vehicle type to show up. If you are an Uber driver and your designated Uber car is not available, then you should not be working that day.

I could not see how all our luggage would fit inside that sedan, so my first reaction was to request another uberVan since there was no way we would fit in a taxi. Unfortunately, though, the closest uberVan was 20 minutes away. We were already a little late, so there was no way I could wait 20 more minutes. With no better options in sight, I instructed the bell boys to see if they could find a way to fit all our luggage inside the sedan.

At this time I realized our outlook of achieving that was even bleaker given that about half the trunk was occupied by the driver’s stuff. Nonetheless, someway, somehow we were able to fit everything in the car thanks in great part to making complete use of the front passenger’s seat.

After arriving at the airport I noticed that, not surprisingly, I had been charged the uberVan rate, which was more expensive than the sedan rate. After getting back home I wrote a complaint to Uber. It took them four days to respond to my complaint and, when they did, they requested additional information about the vehicle and the driver. I provided as much as I could. They apologized and proceeded to provide an approximately $11 refund for the fare difference.

Now, I was not expecting them to issue a full refund or to even provide a credit to our account for the total amount charged, but I was definitely expecting more than that. The fare difference refund was the bare minimum they could do. They gave the impression that this was simply an issue of Uber charging an incorrect rate when the problem was that Uber, via its driver, was deceiving its customers with regards to specific vehicle types.

I wrote Uber back to let them know that I was not satisfied with their response and that they had not addressed the most concerning issue. This time it took them five days to respond. Again, they apologized, but did not offer anything else.

At this point I do not feel like if something worse happens with Uber in the future that they will respond appropriately. They had their chance to reassure my trust in them and they failed to do so.

Did Uber get this right? Have you had similar issues with Uber?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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Mika Pyyhkala March 18, 2016 - 11:25 am

I’ve noticed if you write to Uber support in the USA they usually respond with in an hour, sometimes even faster.

I have also noticed they usually just adjust the fare, and they don’t give you a dime more for compensation or for your inconvenience due to whatever the situation was. They are usually good about adjusting the fare, but again, they don’t provide anything for your inconvenience in 99.9% of situations.

The only time in the last couple of years I’ve received any “compensation” from Uber besides a basic fare adjustment was on a recent trip out of DCA the driver called to ask me where I was going. I told him I was going to Arlington, and he said that was too short of a trip, and then he abruptly hung up and cancelled my ride. I was not charged a cnacellation fee, and Uber issued me “compensation” of about $10 or $15.

I have no idea in cases like this if they actually talk to the driver or not or if they just send you a form letter.
I’ve also noticed they are automating certain functions such as if you are incorrectly charged a cancellation fee, sometimes the system will credit you without having to engage with an email support representative.

I find it curious that Uber by and large does not compensate its customers when they are disservice or inconvenienced. I remember growing up if I ordered a hamburger from MacDonalds and if they accidentally gave me a cheeseburger, they would replace the burger with a hamburger (like doing a fare adjustment) and they would provide a coupon for a free meal or item (compensation.).

AnonCHI March 18, 2016 - 11:48 am

I used to think Uber had better customer service but Lyft has become a lot better recently. Lyft does a lot more to show they care.

David March 18, 2016 - 1:19 pm

I drive for uber and unfortunately they have been treating circumstances like this for drivers the same way. It’s been bad enough lately that a lot of good initial drivers have stopped driving and now uber is recruiting less customer service based drivers. This is resulting in a less appealing experience for all parties involved.

JEM March 19, 2016 - 12:13 pm

You got a ride to the airport at the ultimately correct rate, and you got an apology. What more do you think is deserved? Uber got it right, as far as that goes.

That said, it obviously would have been good customer relations to throw you a bone. Not all businesses have good customer relations, and you’d be justified in choosing not to do business with those companies in the future.

Miguel R. Quinones March 19, 2016 - 12:37 pm

JEM, so if a company tries to deceive you by providing a different product than the one advertised, everything should be OK if they simply refund the difference between the product advertised/requested and the product provided?

JEM March 19, 2016 - 8:39 pm

What “tries to deceive” are you referring to? From what you’ve written, the driver admitted that he unilaterally decided to substitute his sedan for a van. For Uber, that’s failure to deliver the requested product – and a single instance doesn’t come close to the presumption of attempted deception by the company (how they deal with the driver is an internal matter). If this were happening frequently, you might have a case, but errors and service failures occur even in the best of companies.

But to answer your question, yes, that’s all you’re entitled to. From Uber’s perspective, you didn’t even give them a chance to correct the problem at the time. You had the option to refuse service for no charge. Or you could have given them a chance to provide the appropriate vehicle (yes, that would have risked being too late for your flight, but Uber wasn’t a party to your air travel so isn’t liable for that). Instead you quite rationally accepted the less convenient service, so that’s all you should pay for. You’re whole and have suffered no actual loss.

If Amazon delivers the wrong product to you, do you expect them to give you a freebie? Or just to cover the costs of returning the erroneous product and delivering the correct one?

I’m sympathetic with your frustration that things went wrong. But the result of your transaction was that you got to the airport, with your luggage, and you paid the appropriate fare. I don’t see what more you should expect.

OTOH, if Uber cared about your business, I’d expect them to throw you some ride credit. Not because they have to, but because they recognize that they caused you inconvenience and want you to use them in the future. That’s a business decision that most service companies would make, but it’s not something they *have* to do. Their response clearly indicates that they don’t value your patronage enough to do so. So instead of feeling butt-hurt over their decision, just don’t use them again.


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