It's just a fact of life for an Uber driver: You drive enough drunk people home from the bar, one of them will eventually puke up a couple beer-and-shot deals in your backseat. When that happens, Uber's policy allows the driver to tack on a "cleaning fee" to the bill, basically to reimburse them for the time it took to Clorox stomach acid off the upholstery.
Unfortunately, it sounds like some Uber drivers have been abusing the policy—by dousing their cars in fake puke and charging unsuspecting passengers more than $100 for clean-up.
According to a new report from the Miami Herald, multiple Uber passengers say they've been unfairly charged as much as $150 for "clean-up fees," even though they didn't spill anything in the car, let alone yak all over the floor mat or whatever. And when they complained to Uber to refute the charges, the company sends along a photo of a horrific mess, allegedly staged by the driver as part of the scam.
Multiple people detailed the so-called "vomit fraud" to the Herald—which often comes along with photos of fake puke as "proof"—with Miami resident William Kennedy claiming he was once scammed twice in one night. What should have been two $20 trips morphed into a $300 ordeal after Uber charged him for two $150 cleaning fees, accusing him of vomiting in both vehicles.
"It was a total fraud by two different drivers," Kennedy told the Herald. "They have everything planned for the fraud."
One anonymous Uber driver confirmed the scam to the Herald, saying that drivers have "been doing it for a long time" and that "many people don’t review their emails or credit card statements, so the drivers wind up pocketing the $80 or $150."
The Herald's report may have centered on Miami, but there have been reports of similar Uber scams around Florida and even as far as Australia. Uber told the Herald that the company is "actively looking into reports where fraud may be detected and will take appropriate actions on those accounts."
It's unclear exactly how the company plans to crack down on the alleged scam: A team of vomit fraud investigators looking into every case? A requirement that drivers to collect barf samples for later analysis? Or maybe Uber will develop some kind of fancy photo scanning program that can finally tell the difference between real human spew and a can of Progresso chicken gumbo.
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