When Hisham Salama grabbed an Uber to visit a friend at Toronto’s St. Joseph’s hospital Friday night, he was expecting to pay around $20.
Instead, the app informed him that his bill for a 20-minute ride was $18,518.
“My first reaction was to just laugh, because I thought it was probably just an error but then about 20 minutes (later), when I was with my friend, I thought I should probably check my credit card to make sure everything was OK," Salama, who had opted for the metered Taxi fare rather than the standard Uber X ride, told VICE. That’s when he noticed there was a significant amount pending on his credit card.
Salama, whose ride lasted from 5:14 PM to 5:35 PM on Dec. 8, contacted Uber for help. He said he was unable to get through to anyone from customer service, but received a phone call from the ride sharing service the next morning.
At that point, according to Salama, an Uber support representative told him: "I can confirm that based on the pickup and drop-off locations of the trip you took, this fare is correct."
Salama said he was told he could get back in touch with Uber if he had any other issues.
"I don’t know on what planet a 20-minute cab ride equals to $18,518.50," he said.
After Salama and his friends posted about the incident on social media, he ended up getting a refund and a $150 credit to his Uber account.
He told VICE the manager he spoke to said the support representative “was confused with the trip and issue.”
"She was very nice but again I told her that this isn't the resolution to the issue and I requested to have a fact-based conversation with the leadership,” Salama said, noting he’s frustrated at the amount of effort it took to get a refund. He was refunded by Saturday for the Thursday ride.
"If it takes an army of people to tweet and post online to interest you and for you to respond, that is a serious issue."
Uber has not yet responded to VICE’s request for comment but apologized in a statement to Slate.
"We have provided a full refund to this rider and apologized to him for this experience," Uber told Slate. "We have safeguards in place to help prevent something like this from happening, and we are working to understand how this occurred."
Uber later told The Canadian Press the over-charge was caused by human error, in that the taxi driver entered the fee wrong.