Fair warning: This isn’t going to be pretty.
Have you ever heard of something called “Vomit Fraud”?
Roger Bell of St. Petersburg hadn’t either … until an Uber driver accused him of messing up his car.
"I was accused of...the incident and of the vomit all over the car,” Bell told us.
Last week Bell was in Key West and “Ubered” everywhere. While checking his receipts, he noticed something pretty shocking — attached to the receipt were two photo showing a serious mess and an $80 cleaning fee.
Both Uber and Lyft have seen incidents of what they’re terming as “vomit fraud,” fabricated by drivers to scam money from people who get in their cars.
In Bell’s case, the driver wasn’t very smart. The pictures he submitted weren’t even of the car used when Bell called for his ride.
As a result, Bell had an easier time proving his case after several back-and-forth emails with the company.
Until the ride sharing companies can get all this figured out, the best way to protect yourself as a ride-sharing consumer is to use your smartphone. Take a picture or a video of the interior of the car before you get in, and do it again when you get out.
Though Bell was able to get his case straightened out, he feels there’s a bigger message out there for users of ride-share services in his experience.
“Basically, I wanted to challenge the system because I felt a little bullied,” Bell said. “At this stage of my life, I manage a 55-plus community where my residents are always scammed and they’re bullied.”
“I’m now 51,” he continued. “I’m not going to be bullied, but I’m also old-fashioned. I need to talk to a human to feel the comfort that this is going to get taken care of.”
Since our interview with Bell Uber has refunded his money, placed him back in “good standing,” and is now investigating the driver. Uber spokesperson Carly DeBeikes replied to us with this statement:
“We are constantly evaluating our processes and technology related to these claims and will take appropriate action whenever fraud may be detected.”