If you need to get around town quickly, whether your vehicle is in the shop or on vacation, the easiest way to do that is by catching an Uber. All you have to do is open the app, select your pick-up point and destination, and wait for a ride.
It’s a simple process that has helped millions of travelers experience a city’s sights and sounds. But there is a bit of a catch. Until you get in the car or a driver accepts the trip, you are the only person who knows where you are going.
Read on to see why this can leave you in a sticky situation and what you can do about it.
Here’s the backstory
Uber drivers don’t know the destination of a requested ride until they accept the trip. If it ends in an area they don’t want to visit, or the drive is too far, drivers can cancel the trip after initially agreeing to it.
But some drivers are turning that around, asking potential passengers through the app’s messaging service to cancel the trip instead. This doesn’t cost the drivers anything, but you will be charged between $5 and $10.
This is exactly what happened to an Australian Uber user, who would have been charged $8 for doing so. According to news.com.au, the rider received a message from the driver that read, “Hi sorry it’s [a] long way it’s not worth with fuel price please cancel it thanks.”
What you can do about it
In response, the rider rightfully explained to the driver that he would not cancel as he’d “rather not spend $8 on the cancellation and the surge price.” If the driver didn’t want to make the trip, the rider said, “You cancel please mate, it won’t cost you anything.”
So, don’t cancel your ride if an Uber driver asks you to. It is unclear what the drivers’ motivation would be, as an Uber spokesperson said drivers aren’t compensated for cancelations.
But how do you safely cancel a ride without getting charged for it? Well, it’s a bit tricky, but it comes down to a few factors.
Depending on the type of ride requested, a certain amount of time is allocated for cancelations that won’t incur a penalty fee.
- Shared rides have a one-minute window.
- Economy riders can cancel within two minutes after the driver accepts, and the penalty is between $5 and $10.
- Uber Black or BlackSUV has a five-minute window, and the penalty is around 50 cents per minute.
It also depends on how far your driver has driven to pick you up. In most cases, if the driver has gone more than halfway, you’ll be charged for the cancelation.
Exceptions to the window
There are two possible reasons for canceling outside the window period that won’t charge you a penalty.
- Your driver has made no or little progress to the pickup point. For example, they might be stuck in heavy traffic.
- Your driver is more than five minutes late from the estimated pickup time.
If the driver cancels the trip, Ridester explains that you might be charged, but you “can dispute this cancellation fee charge and receive a justifiable refund.”