He wasn’t even able to walk straight as he came towards the vehicle... That should have been my first clue!

Last spring, I picked up a very inebriated college student from downtown Grand Rapids. He needed to get back to Grand Valley State University student housing in Allendale. When I stopped to pick him up, it took him awhile to find me, and even longer to get into my vehicle.

Once he was in my vehicle, I asked him if he was going to be ok. I instructed him to let me know if he felt like he was going to get sick so that I could pull over. He ensured me he would be fine, and we were on our way. I told him there was a puke bag in the seat pocket infront of him.

We were almost all the way there. He slept most of the way, but suddenly woke up and started to get sick. As he rolled down his passenger window, he started vomiting - inside and outside. It was gross. I, of course, pulled over right away. At this point, he exited the vehicle and finished on the ground outside ...but the damage was already done.

He was close enough to his destination and decided to walk the last 2 blocks to his apartment.

It was 1am in the morning, and because of this puker, I was done driving. I missed the 2am surge. Missing the bar close surge was like digging the knife in a bit further. Not only did I have a puker, but I missed the prime money making time in my market.

 

After I successfully ended the ride, here are the steps I took to report the incident.

Real Vomit from outside of my van side1: Take good photos of the entirety of the mess, outside and in. Make sure you get pictures of all the areas impacted. This will help you prove to Uber/Lyft the complexity of the mess, and it will help you document all the areas affected. Remember: the more descriptive you are of the mess, the better the support staff will be at helping you with the clean up claim.

  • Pro Tip: Don’t take the photos from inside the Uber/Lyft App. Take them using your camera App, and then upload during the claim process.

2. Initiate the cleaning fee claim. In the Uber App. you do this from the Trip Log. Start by locating the right trip. Click on the trip and scroll all the way down to the “Help” option. Now choose “Issue with a rider,” and now choose “A rider made a mess in my vehicle.” From this screen, upload the photos you just took of the mess, and describe the mess and circumstances in as descriptive detail as possible.

If you are use Lyft here is how you would do that: Select the correct ride from the dashboard, then click on “Help Center” on the bottom of the screen. Now click on “My car was damaged”. In here describe the mess and upload the images, as with Uber. The incident report must be submitted within 24 hours.

3. Clean up the mess. Stay offline until you hear back from Support. Some say that with Uber, you should make sure to stay off for at least 1 hour. I am not sure this is written anywhere in their terms of service for drivers. Honestly, though, it is likely hard to properly clean up your mess in less time.  We always have a cleaning kit in our trunks for this very reason. Mine has kitchen towels, wet wipes & antibacterial cleaner. I have leather seats which makes cleaning these easier.

If you have a dash cam, it can be worth mentioning to support that you have video footage of the incident. If you don’t have a Dash Cam, this alone could be reason enough to get one. We use the Vantrue N2 Pro.

I have had 4 pukers during my nearly three year rideshare career, and every time I got the maximum available cleanup fee by following these steps.

Tell us about your experience working with Uber/Lyft support staff when reporting a mess in your car. Use the comments on Facebook or this blog entry.

Closing Thoughts on Vomit Fraud and protecting the driving community

So I just today read these 2 articles about the new Vomit Fraud Scam. See below:

https://nypost.com/2018/07/24/uber-has-a-major-vomit-fraud-problem/

https://news.avclub.com/uber-cant-keep-down-accusations-of-vomit-fraud-agains-1827846144

I must say, I am appalled at the drivers who would do this. They are a disgrace to the Rideshare Community. We, the honest drivers, will now likely have to explain ourselves even more thoroughly in light of this “vomit fraud.”

Here are 2 extra tips for protecting yourself - and your car - from the effects of “vomit fraud.”

  1. When you take the pictures to document the mess, make sure you use a phone with localization services enabled. This should not be hard if you use the same phone as the ride share app. Ensure you camera setting is set to also record image meta/exif data. This means the time and place will be embedded into each photo you take. Make sure you take the pictures right away as you let your rider out.

  2. We really can’t stress this one enough - GET A DASH CAM! Make sure you keep the dash cam footage for a few weeks after filing the incident, since the rider can dispute the charges. Also, make sure you utilize a dash cam with night vision LEDs for the back cabin facing camera.

Good luck out there, and stay safe (and clean.)

Jesper