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Uber told me my fare would be $21 then charged me $51 after absurd trip

Surging is one issue, but a driver taking the wrong route? That's another.

I caught an Uber to a friend’s house last weekend to celebrate his birthday but a $21 six-kilometre journey quickly turned into a $51 charge when the route the driver took was almost triple the distance.

I am sure there are plenty of backseat drivers out there who hold back as a ride-share driver takes a wildly different route and, as a non-driver who has spoken up and been completely off before, I decided to keep my mouth shut as the Uber started travelling in the completely wrong direction.

“Maybe I just don’t know the route he’s taking,” I thought to myself. But no, it was just wrong.

Uber passenger in back seat with an inset of a map showing the fastest route and the car kilometres away.
Uber took me for a ride, and not in the way I wanted. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Got a story? Contact belinda.grantgeary@yahooinc.com

I crossed a bridge, just to come straight back across it and it was about that point I checked maps to see how Google would’ve directed me. I found myself pretty far from that location.

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My hushed huffs in the back seat must’ve been audible because when we pulled up, after being in the car more than double the time maps suggested, the driver said I could flag on the app that my journey was too long - a plan my inner-Karen had already formulated. I spend a lot of my days discussing the cost-of-living crisis, and wasn't copping a $51 fare on those terms.

I ended up landing a $29.98 refund within hours and it was a surprisingly simple process.

Many Australians may not know they are more than within their rights to do so and can get cash back straight away. I spoke to Uber about its process so you can arm yourself with the right information as we all keep battling the high cost of living.

How to dispute an Uber fare

Uber receipt screenshot showing route map
Uber's route was wildly different to that recommended, and took far more time. (Yahoo Finance)
Uber issued a refund after I disputed the fare.
Uber issued a refund after I disputed the fare. (Yahoo Finance)

Upfront pricing was introduced in 2018 to give riders certainty over the cost of their ride. It’s calculated based on the expected time and distance of a trip. It also takes into account how many riders and drivers are in the area, which plays into surge pricing.

“If an upfront fare is not honoured, you will either be charged the minimum fare or a fare based on the measured time and distance for your trip, including any base fare, booking fee, surcharges, tolls, and other relevant factors such as a dynamic pricing charge,” a spokesperson for Uber told Yahoo Finance.

“You'll always get a receipt for any trip fare. If your fare is different than the upfront fare you agreed to, your receipt will explain why, and riders are encouraged to report this via the app, so Uber can take action right away.”

Here’s the 4-step process if your upfront fare is off and you want to dispute it:

  1. Select ‘Activity’ in the bottom menu of your app then tap on the ride you want to dispute

  2. Select ‘Receipt’ then ‘Review my fare and fees’

  3. A help window will open with several different options, including ‘My driver took a poor route’

  4. Choose the relevant field and the refund should be processed immediately

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Yahoo Australia