Upset with Uber Ride Cleaning Fee

(WSVN) - Do you use Uber? Many people do, but one South Florida man is fuming after he was charged a $150 cleaning fee after an Uber ride … even though he says he didn’t spill anything. Does he have to pay? It’s why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Uber started seven years ago, very few people had heard of it…

Today, very few people can say they have never heard of Uber.

George Bauslaugh, upset with Uber driver: “I’ve actually been mostly happy with them.”

So happy that when George moved to Miami Beach, he realized by using Uber, Lyft or a cab, he could get rid of his car.

George Bauslaugh: “I found I didn’t need a car for what I do just here.”

A few days ago, George took Uber from his Miami Beach condo to an event in Downtown Miami.

A couple of hours later, he took Uber back home…

George Bauslaugh: “Sixteen [dollars], just like the other one, $16.50, under $17 fare.”

But the next day, George got an email from Uber saying his fare had been changed.

George Bauslaugh: “I click it and it has this big $150 charge. It’s $168, $150 plus the $16 something.”

The Uber driver was charging George a $150 cleaning fee for this stain he said George left on his car seat.

George Bauslaugh: “They are claiming I must have spilled a drink or something on one of his back seats, but I didn’t bring any liquids.”

George went online and found other Uber customers complaining they had been charged a cleaning fee when they say they did nothing wrong … driving George to a conclusion.

George Bauslaugh: “I feel really angry that they would do this with me and that driver would think I’m an easy mark.”

George can dispute the $150 fee but it will take a while for the credit card company to process his dispute and he might not win. Also, because he disputes the charge, Uber will block him from using the company…

George Bauslaugh: “I spend a lot of money with them. I really expected better.”

Well Howard, Uber is a relatively new concept. Do old laws cover a dispute over damage in a ride-sharing vehicle?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes they do, but with a twist. If you cannot convince Uber you did not damage the car, by riding with them, you agree to turn the dispute over to an arbitrator that Uber pays. Then the passenger and driver tell their side, and the arbitrator will decide. Will the arbitrator be neutral? They are supposed to be, but they are being paid by Uber, so you decide.”

In George’s case, Uber was great.

After we contacted them, we were told the vast majority of cleaning fee reports are because of someone making a mess in the car. They added that when they find a case of fraud, they take the appropriate action like removing the driver from their app.

Uber then not only returned the $150 cleaning fee George had been charged, but they gave him back the $16 for that Uber ride.

George Bauslaugh: “One of them apologized for this and corrected their error.”

George got what he wanted — his money back for a mess he didn’t make.

George Bauslaugh: “Thanks to Help Me Howard, Uber actually got back to me — a real person, not just one of their automated responses.”

Glad we could help you, George.

Now how do you make sure this never happens to you? You can take a picture when you get out of a car, but is it worth it? Do you want to spend the rest of your life taking pictures of every place you just left or just deal with an issue when it comes up? That’s your call.

Feel like you have been taken for a ride? Ready to share the problem? Contact us. And we will be über excited to clean up the mess for you.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.