How to ride Uber for free: Let the driver use the restroom

I enjoy the service Uber provides, and generally find it much cheaper than using a taxi. The drivers are friendly, the vehicles clean, and there’s a lot of accountability on using the service – you as the passenger are rated, and you’re able to rate the driver. Further, the entire route is tracked, so there’s no chance for an over-charge.

That brings me to this post…

On a recent, short, 20-minute Uber ride, my driver asked while enroute, if he could stop and use the restroom, since he has been driving folks nonstop for the past few hours. Not wanting me a jerk, and not having to be at my destination for another few hours, I of course obliged, and he made a slight detour to a nearby 7-11. He was certainly nice about it, and offered to buy me coffee, which I refused. After a few moments inside, he returned and we were on our way again. The total time between the detour and getting back on the road couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes and 3 miles.

When I received my receipt after the trip, I noticed the map included our pitstop, and I replied back to the email asking for that portion of the trip to be removed – even though it was only a few miles and a few minutes, it didn’t feel fair being charged for his bathroom break. I was expecting maybe a dollar or two be removed.

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That’s when I got the refund email – I was credited back all $28.57 of my ride…all because of a bathroom break.

Not wanting to get this driver in trouble, I replied back emphasizing that the service was fine, and there was no issue – I just wanted to be refunded the few dollars that was charged for the detour. By no means was I looking for a full refund, or any sort of large compensation. That said, I haven’t heard back, so I’m assuming my full refund still stands.

I feel bad to be honest – I’m not sure who’s paying for this driver’s time, and I hope he isn’t loosing out because of this. I sure hope he isn’t reprimanded, because, after all, he just needed to simply use the bathroom. On the other hand, I feel like an idiot for asking for the detour to be removed off of the bill – as I said, after all, it couldn’t have been more than a few dollars.

In any event, I thought it was interesting that I received a free ride in Uber…all because the driver needed to stop and use the restroom.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? Was Uber too generous, or was I at fault for complaining?

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Comments

  1. Mike says

    You should feel bad for complaining about the bathroom break given that it was so minor. Uber is often a faceless company to drivers and acts ruthlessly for minor infractions.

  2. 02nz says

    The easiest and fairest way to handle this would be for the driver to “end the trip” on his app a little bit before the actual destination, to compensate for the detour. I’ve had drivers offer this eg when they missed a turn and ended up going farther than they should have.

  3. says

    And yes, he’ll probably be reprimanded – or possibly removed completely. Uber is very clear that drivers are never to stop for personal business of any kind with a passenger in their car. Drivers can get removed easily – even giving your driver a 4 versus a 5 is a vote to have the driver fired, as dropping below a 4.7 average is enough to get removed in cities with more drivers than needed.

    • says

      I sort of feel bad because, “when you gotta go, you gotta go.” It’s not like he was stopping for a personal errand, so in some respects, I don’t hope the guy gets in trouble. However, I just wished he stopped the tracking on his phone, or somehow adjusted the fare at the end for the detour. I’m fine with him taking a quick pee break – I’m just not fine with paying for it.

      • says

        Two problems there. 1) Uber does not provide any kind of stop/start mechanism so there is no way to “pause” the meter, so to speak. It’s a flaw in the software but I’m sure they have a reason for not having it. 2) Stopping the fare “early” to compensate is actually a dangerous practice for both you AND the driver. Why? Because Uber’s liability insurance that covers passengers only is in effect from the time the driver “starts” the trip to the time the driver “ends” the trip. I always start the ride the second a passenger so much as puts a limb inside my vehicle and I do not end it until they (and all of their belongings) are clear of the vehicle. Say that the driver were to be rear-ended while you were exiting the car. Uber’s blanket liability insurance policy would no longer apply to you, the passenger. Ditto that driver’s personal liability. Way too risky in my book. It’s also the same reason drivers will often go right back “on” to accept rides the second they drop someone. Uber’s policy only applies while the driver is “on” within the app. So if you are away from home mid-day and driving, it’s to ones benefit to be accepting rides.

  4. MSPDeltaDude says

    I had driver use a “shortcut” in a area I drive and live in and I know it wasn’t going to be a short cut with events going on in the area that day. Ended up costing about $10 more then the ride should have. I left feedback about it and ended up getting $20 off a $30 ride.

  5. Richard says

    Guarantee you that was adjusted out of the drivers account, he would not have been notified of the change either. This is where they really blur the lines of drivers being ‘independent’. Which such low rates and after much expenses and dead or unpaid miles getting to a request, I feel bad for this driver as well while even offering to buy you coffee..

    • Mike says

      Uber technically has no control over what drivers do. Therefore they play small psychological games with drivers like this. It doesn’t surprise me you did not get a response back. It’s more about basically establishing an employer employee relationship with the drivers. So they wanted to let their action stand as an example to that driver and every other driver out there. I do understand why you contacted uber and they should have just refunded you a few bucks for the difference. But they would rather put you in the middle, just to prove a point on potty time. I was once temporarily deactivated for not putting 2 huge service dogs along with 3 large people in my car. I said I wasn’t trying to discriminate against a disabled person, I explained that it was more a matter of congestion. They responded back ‘if you fear dogs we must remind you that this is the law and part of your relationship as a driver with uber. I told them I have two dogs and a disabled child, and I explained I canx the ride because of safety and capacity concerns only. I guess because I said they were too big, they acted like I was scared. To me they were playing mind games and this was pure common sense not to have this many dogs and animals in an economical vehicle. BTW why would you be concerned about 2 or 3 dollars? Consider it a tip, we make crumbs! But I understand if it was just principal. I once had to get gas and the gentleman completely understood? What’s 5 minutes when we are already fast as lightening? I mean if you took a cab you would have still been waiting longer and paid more I’m positive!

  6. gaf says

    Uber drivers have razor-thin profit margins (or none at all, depending on who you ask). Your free ride came at considerable per-mile cost to the driver, you most likely wiped out his wages for the day. So not only did he drive you for free. He drove EVERYONE for free. Look before you take a dump, consumer.

  7. Ben says

    I am an uber driver and I always go offline to take my bathroom break. I’m sure he didn’t get the fare since it was on him really. There is no reason for a driver to do this. I wait until my ride is completed, go offline, then look for a place, then go back online. It’s really simple to do. It sounds like he just didn’t want to lose out on a fare while he was using it.

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