'Screwed': Uber Claws Back Double Pay from Drivers After April Fools Glitch

One driver “delivered through a blizzard only to get screwed out of what I thought was extra base pay for hazardous conditions," they said.
'Screwed': Uber Claws Back Double Pay from Drivers After April Fools Glitch
Image: Mike Kemp / Contributor via Getty Images

On April 1, some Uber Eats drivers received a message that at first glance could have seemed like an April Fool’s Day prank: rates they were already paid for their rides the previous day were too high, the company said, and the difference was being subtracted from their account.

One driver posted a screenshot of Uber’s message to Reddit. It reads, “An incorrect overpayment was made to your account. Due to a technical error, you received duplicate earnings for certain trips between 3/31 - 4/02. The message then says that Uber would be subtracting $75.86 from the driver’s account to correct the “erroneous overpayment.”


Another person posted a screenshot of a $94.39 subtraction from their account and suggested affected drivers strike the next day. 

In none of the shared screenshots does Uber clarify the nature of the error or itemize which rides had erroneous rates.

Uber told Motherboard that everyone who was offered a rate was paid that rate, and the clawbacks are only in response to overpayments beyond what they were shown in the app.

In a statement to Motherboard, Uber said “For several hours on March 31st, Uber experienced a technical issue that resulted in couriers being paid double the fare shown for each delivery trip. In all cases, couriers were paid the full amount they were shown before accepting a trip. We apologize for the error and are working to prevent this from happening again.”

Drivers don’t seem to be clear which payments were supposedly erroneous, because the messages they received were nearly identical. Drivers also reported having different experiences with Uber’s customer support, with some being told the deduction was an error that would be fixed and others being told they weren’t getting their money back.

One driver said conversations with customer service went nowhere. “Just got off the phone with support and the guy told me that it was not an error, and he said Uber was having problems paying people a higher base fare so they took that money back,” the driver wrote.  “He said sorry unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done.”


Another driver said they were able to get their money back. “They gave me mine back on the first call. Also depends on the amount they took though, but everytime you call you’ll talk to someone different so if it’s worth it to you keep trying,” the driver wrote. 

A Texas-based driver named Jamie who said they’ve worked for Uber Eats for 8 years told Motherboard over email that the app was glitching on March 31, only telling her the distance of the restaurant but not the restaurant name.  “We all called Uber support. They said it was fixed,” the driver told Motherboard. But after the glitch was fixed, their base pay was higher than normal.

“We all worked and took the orders…We probably would not have taken if it wasn't for the high pay,” Jamie said. Uber deducted $44 from her account.

Another driver, Luchino Castagno, told Motherboard in an email that he “delivered through a blizzard only to get screwed out of what I thought was extra base pay for hazardous conditions.” 

Jacalyn E., who requested that her full last name not be used for fear of retaliation, has been driving for Uber since 2019. She said her pay on March 31 came out to $168.72, which factors in her base fare and tips. She got a message about the error on April 1 and $53.16 was subtracted from her account. 

While she says it’s possible that Uber accidentally overpaid her base fare, she says the problem is Uber’s emails provide no transparency or accountability. Sometimes final pay can be larger than expected because of tips.

“They didn't give me any breakdown..we need details,” she told Motherboard. “How are you calculating this amount?

She also said drivers shouldn’t be responsible for Uber’s mistake, as some of them may have already spent the money on bills and could end up in debt. “If there was a glitch in the system, that's on you all,” she says. She would have preferred if Uber worked out  a compromise.

Uber Eats drivers sign contracts with clauses forcing them into arbitration and precluding a class action, which means it’s unlikely they’ll be able to pursue claims in court.

Drivers and researchers have said that Uber’s fees are opaque, and drivers often feel like they’re gambling while using the service. Now, not only do drivers have to worry about why they’re offered certain rates, they also have to worry about whether Uber will clawback their pay.

This article has been updated with additional quotes from drivers.