AndrewKemendo 6 months ago

This is yet another example of what happens as a result of the "race to bottom" for wages and compensation for Uber/Lyft drivers.

These drivers are looking for any way that they can to make their work barely profitable, because just letting the algorithm "Manna[1]" them around a city ends up being barely break even after all costs are added in.

So that's why you get the calls asking where you're going so they can get long trips (especially around airports), the "oh not I got into an accident, can you cancel the trip?" calls, etc... Not to mention the drivers who are stuck with high interest loans on cars from Uber.

It's marginal labor inputs for a marginalized workforce - and an increasingly immigrant one, which is great generally but correlates to the easily exploitable. So while I don't condone this kind of behavior, I can see why they would feel pushed into doing it - especially if it's relatively retribution free.


  • ravenstine 6 months ago

    Uber is the worst, especially if you are an Uber Eats driver. They just recently increased the drive radius while lowering pay. The app doesn't encourage customers to tip, either, whereas a tip is default in other apps like GrubHub(then again, DoorDash steals tips so they can pay less in fees).

    Unfortunately, not enough people use Lyft so those who don't like Uber are still forced to "multi-app" with Uber rather than relying on it as a sole source of income.

    It's companies like Uber that make the US unemployment rate bullshit; people can be independent contractors, get treated like trash by "unicorns" like Uber, get paid shit, and be considered employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can make a living working multiple gig economy jobs, but it's hardly sustainable.

    • Sohcahtoa82 6 months ago

      > DoorDash steals tips so they can pay less in fees

      I found that hard to believe, so I looked it up, and you're right.

      DoorDash uses some pretty fancy wording to try to hide it, but they use tips to subsidize your pay. If a delivery is going to pay you $5 and the customer tips $0, then you get $5, obviously paid entirely by DD. If the customer tips $3, then they give you the $3 tip, and DD only pays $2, so you still drive away with only $5. If on that same delivery, they instead tip a whopping $10, then you get the $10 tip and DD only pays you $1.

      But DD is charging the customer the same delivery fee no matter what. If DD charged the customer $7 for this hypothetical delivery, then they keep $2 from the non-tipper, $5 from the $3 tipper, and $6 from the $10 tipper, when really, they should be keeping only $2 each time with the remainder going to you.

      They are absolutely stealing tips.

    • isostatic 6 months ago

      I don’t understand tipping. Service offered for $x. Contract accepted. Contract completed. Service delivered. Funds transferred.

      • andrepd 6 months ago

        It's a way for employers to shift, by way of ingrained culture, some of the labour costs onto the customer.

        • isostatic 6 months ago

          I had a tiler round on Monday. He quoted £200, I paid £200. Job done.

          The entire cost of his Labour was borne by me, yet I didn’t tip him.

          Is it a tax evasion scheme, and thus a tax subsidy for certain professions?

          • andrepd 6 months ago

            I don't quite understand what you mean by this.

            If it wasn't clear, what I meant is: employer under pays employee with the expectation that customer will pick up the slack via tipping.

            • isostatic 6 months ago

              Pay $20 for something and no tip Pay $15 for something and $5 tip

              It's identical, expect I suspect the $5 tip isn't taxed

    • toomanybeersies 6 months ago

      It's not just companies like Uber with independent contractors that make the unemployment rate bullshit.

      Work 30 hours a week at minimum wage for McDonalds, and technically you're considered employed.

  • reustle 6 months ago

    > These drivers are looking for any way that they can to make their work barely profitable

    Sympathizing with this is like sympathizing with a store clerk who is taking money out of the register on the side.

    • RodericDay 6 months ago

      I sympathize with said store clerks.

  • paulpauper 6 months ago

    except that: vomit fraud is a very uncommon occurrence

    second, regular cabs also have tons of ways to rip off riders, and do so. Playing with the meter, intentionally taking a longer route, etc.

    • UncleEntity 6 months ago

      > Playing with the meter...

      Which you report to Weights & Measures if you suspect that since the meters are supposed to be certified and untampered with -- back before uber defanged Weights & Measures (at least in Arizona so they would quit hunting their illegal livery vehicles) this was a serious offence.

      > ...intentionally taking a longer route

      Everyone has a smartphone and generally don't trust cab drivers so have their google maps open.

      The main difference is with a cab the only way they can charge you extra is to call the police and have them make you pay (or give you a ticket for "theft of service"), with uber they just tack on some extra charges and you have to fight them to get the money back. The police are going to ask a few questions and not make someone pay $150+ for a couple mile trip when they can look in the back seat and see there's no vomit.

  • jtr_47 6 months ago

    It kind of sounds like a 3rd world mind set in trying to get people to pay more. Only because they are not getting paid enough to live on, but may have no other options as employment. So they, the drivers become a captive employee/consultant, hoping to make ends meet.

    It's a shame our system (USA) allows this type of abuse to happen. Time to bring back unions (at least until they become corrupt).


    • freddie_mercury 6 months ago

      I live in the third world. I don't know what you mean by "third world mindset". Grab drivers here don't do that. I hope this "US mindset" doesn't spread to the third world.

  • pstuart 6 months ago

    A temporary diversion, as Uber and Lyft have made no secret that they're eager to replace all of their drivers with autonomous vehicles post haste.

    I only recently read Manna, and it was terrifying and inspirational. My concern is that only the inspirational is fictional.

    • isostatic 6 months ago

      It’s not just westerners running pig of jobs. The immigration influx in both Europe and America, and wider the people left behind, are also symptoms.

      Watching a travelogue this evening in a rural Sicilian town that was mostly empty. The population in the last generation had left. Not to Palermo, or even Rome, but to Berlin and London.

      The governemt was keeping the village alive by settling immigrants from Africa there, but eventually, under our current system, they’ll need jobs.

      It’s the same story world over. In places looks Tunisia it’s more explicit than in say England, but in today’s world it’s not going to go away any time sooner. It’s like a sinking ship in “titanic”, and as technical experts with the benefot of a western passport and education we’re further from the bow. Eventually though there’s only a few life rafts.

      While we still have nominal democracy there is a chance though, doesn’t matter how much voter disenfranchise or brainwashing you have, when 90% of the country is unemployed, they aren’t going to vote for the system that keeps 10% in power.

      • selimthegrim 6 months ago

        I believe the mayor of this town had questionable charges just filed against him by the national government

jnbiche 6 months ago

Yeah, I'm sure some incidents of this kind of fraud have happened, but I'm skeptical it happens often, simply because of driver incentives (ie, why make a quick hundred bucks if it's at the risk of never making any additional Uber income ever again).

Also, I'm totally skeptical of the guy complaining of two vomit frauds committed against him in one evening. Far more likely is that he blacked out and then threw up twice in different vehicles, or he's simply too embarrassed to admit it.

  • WalterGR 6 months ago

    Far more likely is...

    Yes. The statistics bear this out.

wiseleo 6 months ago

On the flip side, $150 is an insufficient cleaning fee. Driver loses all revenue for the rest of the day and the cost of professional detailing often exceeds that amount. It should be a minimum of $300.

It once took me 4 hours to clean my car after an incident that involved my sliding door mechanism. Cleaning quote for that exceeded $300.

And that smell... ugh!!!

Edit: vomit incident.

  • VectorLock 6 months ago

    Did someone throw up on your sliding door mechanism?

    • Bluestrike2 6 months ago

      Probably blood.

      • VectorLock 6 months ago

        Maybe. The "ugh the smell" made me believe vomit.

        • Bluestrike2 6 months ago

          Completely missed that. Oops.

      • isostatic 6 months ago

        Well if you sharpen the edges...

        • Bluestrike2 6 months ago

          That'd do it, though I was imagining something a bit less severe; think patch of skin caught in the door latch mechanism, a sharp edge in a weird place, etc. Plus, the detailing bill would have probably been a lot higher... probably. Depends on whether the arm was reaching in or reaching out.

          And with that, I'm definitely done.

Bluestrike2 6 months ago

I'd assume that the drivers keep a bunch of photos of actual vomit on their phones, and then just use them when they decide to commit a bit of vomit fraud?

If that's the case, then Uber should at least save the submitted photos and implement some minor automated procedures to raise the bar from effectively zero to just a few millimeters above. Check the EXIF data and compare it to the ride data, and compare the photos to old ones. When a vomit charge is disputed, Uber employees could compare the submitted photos to old ones in case a driver took a bunch of different photos from different angles. Or if they want to put more effort into things, control the camera directly from the Uber driver app and only allow photos taken from the app to be submitted.

It wouldn't solve the problem, but Uber could at least put a minor speed bump in front of would-be fraudsters.

  • tantalor 6 months ago
    • Bluestrike2 6 months ago

      I guess you could whip up a batch of fake vomit. But then you have to actually clean up the fake vomit, thereby incurring the very costs (both money and time) the fee was meant to compensate you for. If you use the gimmicky plastic variety, I'd think it'd be pretty obvious in photos. Especially if you only buy one fake vomit piece.

      But I was thinking more in terms of catching at least some of the fraud attempts and making it a bit riskier as a deterrence, rather than a foolproof detection method.

code_duck 6 months ago

How could their systems allow a charge for a trip with a cancellation, and also a fee for vomit on that trip?

“I see that it was an uncomfortable experience, because the driver started the trip without you in the car, which should not happen.”

also, that plainly does not make sense.

sudosteph 6 months ago

After a particularly terrible uber experience in Miami (driver swerved terribly the whole time, didn't understand english enough to recognize that we were asking him to pull over because I was nauseated), I thought this would be about drivers intentionally making passengers motion sick so they could extort cash from them (ie: pay up or I'll report you). But this makes a lot more sense. I don't see a fair solution other than requiring video footage, which unfortunately would just be another expense for legitimate drivers.

  • BadassFractal 6 months ago

    I had an Uber driver tell me years ago he would sometimes shake people up extra hard when it was his last ride of the day at 2-3am Fri/Sat and the passengers looked like they were ready to pop. He claimed to know a guy who would be able to clean up for only $50, and Uber would pay him an extra $200 for the inconvenience. It was a nice occasional $150 boost.

    Still, doesn't seem scalable. Also not super pleasant to have that done to your car unless you're renting it. Every time I would tell other Uber drivers this story, they would just laugh and not believe it.

vinni2 6 months ago

I get following message when I open the link.

“Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism”

lobo_tuerto 6 months ago

The easy thing to do for the driver (for legitimate cases), is to take a picture/video of the passenger while still on the car right after the incident.

For the passengers, just take a picture of the interior after you get off an uber vehicle.

Simulacra 6 months ago

Yes, but wouldn't you then dispute the charge with your credit card company?

  • mathrawka 6 months ago

       Despite several email exchanges, Uber never agreed to
       reimburse her the extra money. But she disputed the
       charge with her credit card company and got back her
       $98. Uber then canceled her account.
    • xkcd-sucks 6 months ago

      Typically companies store CC info hashed with a per account salt, so you can sign up for another account with the same credit card

      • baddox 6 months ago

        Wouldn't they need the plaintext credit card number to, well, charge the credit card? Maybe not, if they're using a third-party credit card processor that stores the credit card number keyed by an account ID, but I doubt Uber is using a separate processor.

      • toomanybeersies 6 months ago

        Uber will ban you by name, so you can't just use a new card.

        • waterhouse 6 months ago

          Surely names aren't a unique identifier? "John Smith" et al. Would they keep around other information and use that?

  • mikeyouse 6 months ago

    You could, but then you'd likely be banned from Uber in the future..

    • Simulacra 6 months ago

      If it's truly fraud then that's not a company you probably should be doing business with...

      • isostatic 6 months ago

        Indeed. Uber is handy, bug it’s not a monopoly. If they do that to you, cut them loose.

Sohcahtoa82 6 months ago

I wonder if this is a thing at all with Lyft.

If its a problem with both services, it's dishonest to target Uber specifically.

EDIT: A quick Google search indicates it's likely a problem in both Lyft and Uber.

leephillips 6 months ago

Yet another reason to use taxis:

  • mikeash 6 months ago

    That post reminds me of late-night TV commercials for bizarre gadgets, which try to sell you on their nonsense by showing videos of ordinary people completely failing to accomplish easy household tasks.

    • Sohcahtoa82 6 months ago

      It's easy to laugh at them, but generally those products are actually being sold to people with disabilities.

      • mikeash 6 months ago

        Interesting. You'd think they would show people with disabilities in the ads... unless they were going for the mental sort.

        • Sohcahtoa82 6 months ago

          My guess is that if they showed people with disabilities using them, able-bodied people would be less likely to buy them. They might admit some product might actually be kind of handy, but seeing it used by the disabled in an ad would implicitly send the message that it's for disabled people and not buy it.

    • isostatic 6 months ago

      “Kevin” opening milk in friends in the 90s

      I assume those “infomercials” don’t exist nowadays with video on demand.

  • CamperBob2 6 months ago

    I wonder why people were so eager to stop using taxis when Uber and Lyft came along?

    Hmm. Gee. Someone should really look into that.

playpause 6 months ago

> Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries.

  • isostatic 6 months ago

    “Unfortunately we take your life and sell it to criminal gangs for 2.6 cents and Europe insists you have to explicitly allow you to happen”

antongribok 6 months ago

I wonder if you can push your case with Uber by threatening to sue for defamation of character.

Also, I wonder if a request for metadata of the photos would help resolve this in your favor.

aaron695 6 months ago

This is so fucking dumb.

You don't think Uber won't catch on when they have a driver accused twice of vomit fraud and just fire him destroying his job? (The cost of setting up is probably around two vomit frauds worth off $)

Do people really think this is a fucking unsolvable problem. Do people really think this is happening on mass?

Compared to a normal taxi that can continuously take people on long routes.

Compared to a normal taxi that can assault and rob you and no one knows what car did it? Yes, this happened a lot before Uber, but now Taxis are starting to put measures in place.

The real fraud here is the users claiming the drivers are lying, and the drivers have to take it. They can't risk their jobs over it.