How I Was Scammed by Uber

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If you travel, it has happened to you. Maybe the taxi meter was tampered with. Maybe the driver “accidentally” took the wrong turn or chose a longer route to your destination – because of “traffic” or “construction”. Perhaps a magical “luggage fee” was added to your tab. And, quite frankly, I hope that a little padding of the bill is actually the worst thing that a taxi driver has ever done to you…

So, it’s no surprise that Uber, Lyft, etc. have become quite popular. Besides the obvious conveniences and usually-lower fares, Uber also thrives on the perception that you can’t get ripped off. After all, you are being tracked by GPS signal, so can easily dispute the charge later with Uber without causing a scene with the driver.

Recently I found out that this isn’t actually true. I arrived after midnight into Madrid airport’s Terminal 4. I called my airport hotel, only to find out that the shuttle was no longer running. Instead of taking a taxi and listening to the driver complain about a cheap fare (instead of a ride into town), I decided to try out Uber and the App promised me a 10 euro fare.

Before I continue with my story, it’s worth pointing out that I used to live in Madrid. Moreover, I often find myself staying overnight near Barajas airport as I mix and match reward flights on Iberia Airlines and try to build in overnight stops to avoid any “positioning” issues. So I know perfectly well that there’s no need to take a tunnel at 1 a.m. when exiting Terminal 4…

Eventually we made it to the Hilton, and the prompt email from Uber made it obvious (to me at least) that I had been “long-hauled”…

If I had been driving, or simply taking the airport shuttle bus, we would have travelled this direct route, especially at 1 a.m. with zero traffic…

No worries…  A few clicks on the computer and I’m able to dispute the charge, right?!?!

I guess not… as I don’t have a screenshot of the 10 euro fare estimate provided when ordering my Uber.

Perhaps I’ll take it further – rather than the 7 euros it’s the principle of the matter – but for now I’ll just use my “position” to call out Uber for scamming a customer…

Any taxi or Uber scam stories you’d like to share in the comments section?


  1. Felipe says

    In Barcelona I was scammed by MyTaxi app, complained for one month but they refused to refund me.

    I guess Uber is just another shitty company, with time it will just become like Taxi corporations.

    Uber is almost banned in Spanish cities, you probably got a taxi driver…

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Actually Uber is operating legally now and awhile back a taxi driver protest virtually shut down Barcelona. Naturally this made me inclined to support Uber wherever I can… until now!

      Sorry to hear about Mytaxi. I thought that just called you a regular taxi…

  2. Mike says

    I had an Uber driver make a fake claim for cleaning (for which I was automatically charged), alleging that I had vomited in the back of her car (I hadn’t).

    A threat to involve law enforcement quickly resulted in a refund…

  3. James says

    ive noticed what they seem to do to lately is accept your fare but then drive the opposite way from you…until you cancel. Then you get the cancellation fee deducted from your account. Ive had to flag this up a couple of times. fortunately they haven’t denied me a refund yet.

    Its very annoying though, Especially when he drives the opposite way you cancel and rebook and the same driver accept the fare and then continues to drive the opposite way!!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I’ve been in an Uber where the driver accepted a Lyft ride at the exact time as he was driving me. Presumably either to get a cancellation fee or hoping that the Lyft rider would wait.

      Surely there must be a website somewhere that, instead of “travel hacking”, deals with “Uber hacking”… Might help understanding wtf is going on sometimes…

  4. Jim says

    I used uber over the summer and did several of the same journey over a week at all similar times and when very little traffic on road. My fares though on one of the days was 50% more when I checked what I’d been charged. My only conclusion for the fare jump was that the APP showed me the taxi would take 10 minutes to arrive instead of the usual few minutes. I never knew they charged from when they set off to pick you up. Shall I complain.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Probably just surge pricing that you didn’t notice at the time – if you look at the trip in your uber history you’ll be able to see what happened.

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