In this post my friend Andrew B will share his recent experience with losing something in an Uber. As some of you may recall, Andrew won an OMAAT contest several years back, and we’ve been friends ever since. Earlier in the year he took Qatar Airways A380 first class and Megabus on the same trip, and shared his thoughts here (it’s not often you get such contrast)!
I’m a big fan of Uber, though have also had my fair share of negative experiences. However, I’ve never left anything behind in an Uber, so I found the resolution (or lack thereof) to be quite interesting.
Like Ben, I’ve generally had great experiences with Uber. I take them several times a week, and almost all of my rides have been good.
Recently I had a terrible Uber experience. A friend requested an Uber to take us to dinner, and the second the ride ended and the driver pulled away, I realized my phone had fallen out of my pocket and was still in the car.
I called the driver right away from within the Uber app. He couldn’t have been more than 1,000 feet away at that point. He gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him back in a half an hour. When I called him back, he didn’t answer. He didn’t answer my texts either.
After several unanswered texts and calls offering to meet him anywhere that’s convenient for him (as well as an email to Uber), the following morning I offered him $50 cash to return my phone. Immediately he texted back and said “on my way.” I was in a big rush because I was leaving LA early that afternoon. He did return my phone, but the experience left me with a terrible taste in my mouth.
I e-mailed Uber support again. I told them that I’d recovered my phone, but only after bribing the driver. I was hoping Uber would tell me they’d talk to the driver.
Uber’s response was:
So, I did that. The account holder (my friend) then responded and said, “Please let me know if you need further details. You have my authorization to deal with Andrew directly.” He included a screen shot showing the details of the ride.
Uber didn’t respond to either of us, so a couple days later I requested an update. They said they would need the account holder to write in (he already had)! They also kept referencing how they want to help me recover my lost item.
I sent two more emails explaining that I’d already recovered the item and that my friend had already written in. Each time, unbelievably, Uber continued to ask me to have the friend write in so that they could help me recover my lost item.
This whole experience made me wonder: if you ride along in an Uber requested by your friend and something bad happens, what protections do you have? At this point, I’m not sure if I have a good answer to that question.
I’m at a loss for what to do, and I guess I might as well just give up. All I really wanted was for them to tell me they’d spoken with the driver to explain that holding customers’ property for ransom was not company policy. Now I’m just upset by the fact that their responses indicate that they didn’t even read my e-mails.
What would you guys do: give up and move on with your life, or keep pursuing this issue?
If you’d like to read the lengthy exchange between me and Uber, I’ve included it below.
Last night (8/21) around 6:45 pm Pacific time a friend ([friend’s name]) ordered an Uber (a Mercedes S-class), and I left my phone in it. I realized it as soon as I stepped out but the driver drove off quickly. Within a minute I called him, and he said to call him back in a half hour! I did, and I texted him, and he hasn’t been responsive. I am leaving LA in a couple hours and still do not have my phone. I’ve offered to meet him anywhere. The driver’s phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Please help!
Thanks for your response. cc’d here is [friend], who requested the Uber. I was able to recover my phone, but only after bribing the driver to bring it back to me. Here is a rough timeline of what happened starting 8/21:
7:20 pm: Driver drops us off at restaurant in LA
7:21 pm: I realize I left my phone in the car
7:22 pm: I call the driver using your system. He says he sees the phone in his car but I should call him back in a half hour.
7:55 pm: I call back, no response.
8-10 pm: I text the driver several times and don’t receive a response. I explain that I am flying home (to DC) tomorrow. I offer to meet him anywhere that’s convenient for him.
10:30 pm: Driver texts that he is on his way to drop off the phone. Tracking my iPhone shows he is a 10-minute drive away.
11:30 pm: Driver is now an hour away according to tracking.
1:40 am (8/22): Driver texts to ask if I am still in Hollywood. 7-9 am: I text driver several times to explain that my flight leaves soon and plead with him to meet me somewhere to recover my phone.
9:45 am: I text driver to say that I will pay him $50 to meet me and return my phone.
9:48 am: Driver texts that he is on his way. 10:50 am: I finally get my phone back and pay him the $50. I’ve been an Uber customer for years (you can look up my account: [account info]) and have had almost uniformly great experiences. This was terrible. I feel as if my phone was held hostage, and only when I offered a bribe was I given prompt service. I would have paid him anyway upon getting the phone back, but the fact that I had to offer was absurd.
I hope Uber will explain to this driver that the expectation is that lost items are returned promptly and that they should not resort to extortion. The fact that I called the driver within two minutes of him dropping me off and he was unable to deliver my phone at that time is still very puzzling to me. The additional fact that it took 50 bucks to get it back just in time for me to rush to the airport is not ok. You guys are awesome, but I don’t think this driver has represented your brand well in this situation.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Andrew. This experience sounds completely unacceptable and not what we expect from any of our partner drivers. As Uber is a cashless service. In order for us to properly resolve this for you, kindly provide us the date/time of the trip and name of the driver so we can able to pull up the trip and take a closer look into it. Thank you so much for your patience while we work on resolving this for you. Hope to hear back from you soon.
Please let me know if you need further details. You have my authorization to deal with Andrew directly. [Screen shot showing trip on 8/21 at 6:47 pm, with driver named Daniel]
We completely understand where you’re coming from, Andrew. Your friend needs to be the one to reach us regarding this concern. That is for us to locate the drivers account and take necessary actions to help you retrieve your item. We hope you understand us on our end.
Hi there, [the friend] did respond and gave you authorization to access his account and deal with me directly. Any update on this? Just to clarify, as I said, I did receive my lost item — just very dismayed that it occurred only AFTER I had to bribe the driver.
We’re sorry to hear that you’ve had such a bad experience with your recent Uber ride, Andrew. We’ll always do whatever we can to help, but to protect your account’s security, could you please have the account holder write in from the e-mail address associated with your Uber account? Just letting us know the email address won’t be enough as we do need to confirm the account holder. Let us know if you have any other concerns.
He HAS written in, as I’ve said several times! I don’t understand what the problem is! Per the instructions in your very first email, he responded on 8/23 at 10:37 pm Eastern. His email was sent from [email address] to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m really not sure why I’ve had to write the same email so many times. Would it be easier for someone to call me? I’m at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Below is a screen shot of the beginning of his email.
I’m so sorry to hear about the trouble here Andrew. I understand how frustrated you are at this point in time. However, for us to be able to properly assist you in retrieving your lost phone. We need the person who requested for the trip to directly communicate with us through email. You mentioned that he already has reached out. So I strongly suggest that you ask him to check on Uber’s reply to his email. As we do take matters like this seriously and make sure that we address them with utmost priority. I’m sure somebody has responded to your friend with instruction on how to go about reaching the driver and getting assistance from us for the return of your item.
[I checked with the friend. Nobody responded to him.]