When Lauren Fernandes, a real estate broker, was leaving a doctor's appointment on crutches in Manhattan on April 26, she hailed an Uber, and watched from across the street as a stranger got into her ride and drove away.
"First I stand there for a second, like, 'did that just really happen?'" Fernandes told me over the phone. "I guess what must have happened was, there was another Uberpool, and they came to the same corner, and [were] dropping us off at a similar place," she said.
Fernandes called her Uber driver and they spoke, but by the time the driver realized the mistake, he was already pretty far away, so she asked him to cancel the fare. He refused and told her to contact Uber instead.
It's not the fare charge for a ride she didn't take that pisses her off—it was an Uberpool ride that cost $5—but the company's "bullshit standard response" to her complaint, Fernandes said.
She sent a complaint three times, and received two responses.
The first suggested she ask friends and family if they had taken a car on her account. The second was more firm: "We understand that we will likely not see eye-to-eye on this issue," the statement said. "With that, we are closing out this discussion."
"We understand that we will likely not see eye-to-eye on this issue. With that, we are closing out this discussion."
She admits that from Uber's perspective, it looks like she had jumped out of the ride early with the other pool passenger, and was trying to get a free ride: The other person was taking a similar route. She asked Uber customer service to call the driver—who knew firsthand what happened—but they said that it looked like she was dropped off successfully.
"The tone was so rude," she said. "If you question them, that's how they respond to everyone? That's the part that I think is so ridiculous."
Shortly after I sent two emails requesting comment or clarification on their policies, Uber refunded Fernandes' trip. And following this article's publication, an Uber spokesperson provided the following statement via email: "This was a mistake that has since been corrected. The rider's fare was fully refunded within a few hours."
This isn't nearly as bad as like Uber's issues with fraudulent logins from 2015, but it still sucked for Fernandes. And it's easy to imagine this exact same scenario—someone getting into another person's Uber ride—taking place in any number of cities where the company operates. And as Fernandes' experience shows, the company seemed ill-prepared to deal with such a case. Hopefully they've learned and will be able to address it going forward.
Have you had someone steal your Uber, Lyft, or other app-based ride that you ordered and get away with it? I'd love to hear from you. Email me your rideshare horror stores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been updated to include a response from Uber.
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