What to do if your Uber driver doesn’t start the meter?

I had an interesting issue the other day in Seattle that I felt was worth writing about, since it’s not the first time it’s happened to me.

I was headed from Kimpton’s Palladian hotel to Seattle airport and because of some delays on the train system, decided to Uber it directly there instead of risking being late on the train. As I was headed down to check-out, I requested the Uber on my phone and within about five minutes the car pull up outside and we were off to the airport.

The driver was very pleasant, and we made small talk on my recent trip to Australia and his travels. About 5 minutes from the airport (maybe 3 miles or so?), the Uber drive looked as his phone in horror as he realized that he had not started the trip, and thus not started the meter of the trip. Realizing he wasn’t going to collect any money so far, he told me he was going to start the trip at that time, drop me off at the airport, and then keep the meter running as he drove back to the city to compensate. Not really knowing what to say, I nodded my head, knowing I’d be writing to Uber later, which I did (and haven’t received a response yet).

So, here’s my experience on this and concerns:

  • On the few other trips where this has happened, the driver has chalked it up, admitted to the mistake, and simply just let the trip run to the destination and then turned it off, ending the trip.
  • I’m concerned the meter kept running, since technically Uber would think I’m still in his car. I’m not sure the liability behind that, but if the driver were to get in an accident on the way back, or try to claim that I did something, I don’t want to be held responsible even though I’m not in the vehicle, but the system thinks I am.
  • I have trouble believing the driver would actually turn the trip off at the right time as he drove back. In my case, he continued to the airport (now with the trip on), and then all the way back to the city with it on, thus almost charging me 25% more than I needed to be.
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Uber Map

For full disclosure, I did use a $20 referral coupon for this journey, but I was charged an additional $7 on top of the $20 free, since the trip did go above the referral code amount. I don’t think that should make a difference in this case, since it still appears that I was over-charged as the driver continued the journey, and repeated the same distance going back.

What do you think is appropriate in this instance? Should the driver be allowed to continue the journey without me in the vehicle, just to recoup his fees or should he be at a loss for not starting the clock as he was supposed to? 

I haven’t heard back from Uber yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to put a follow up on this post.

If you want to earn $20 free towards your next Uber ride, feel free to use my referral link here. Sign up, and you’ll earn a $20 free ride. I’ll also earn $20 thanks to your generosity!

 

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Comments

  1. Christian says

    The driver screwed up, so it’s on them. As to fallout, just give the driver a worse review. Isn’t that why the review system is in place?

  2. Robert says

    I have found uber’s customer service to be good about handling these things. I had a similar thing happen where the driver realized he was going to run out of gas so he needed to detour and in doing so it cost 3 dollars more in tolls. A quick email to uber and they credited me back for the tolls and extra distance.

  3. Robert says

    The other thing I will add is that I like the fact that with uber there is a way of handling disputes after the fact and by a third party. It makes it a lot easier to deal with these kind of things when your luggage isn’t locked in a trunk or something.

  4. Rachel Galindo says

    Screw the driver, he is an idiot for driving for uber cheap rates and for driving cheap people at uber cheap rates

  5. Marc-André Mireault says

    I would say that it’s the driver’s error and he’s responsible for it. He should not continue the meter after you get out of the car. I too wouldn’t be comfortable if he continued the meter since you have no control on when he stops it.

  6. Peter says

    Where is your graciousness? I’ve been driving for Uber BLACK for three years and early on would infrequently forget to start the trip. I would take the loss. As a rider you can end the trip at any time – you could have done so in this circumstance when he was on his way back. Or you could have given him $10 or sent him money through Square cash. You’ll (all riders) pay $12 for a glass of wine worth $4 but when someone drives you safely to your destination you begrudge them $3.

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