Lyft drivers accused of fraudulently charging customers for ‘vomit,’ ‘urine’ cleanup fees
Hundreds of Lyft riders are complaining about a gross tactic known as “Vomit” or “Urine Fraud” that they say unscrupulous drivers used to stick them with bogus cleanup fees.
One woman from Middlesex County got Kane in her Corner after she says it happened to her. Vanessa Deyhle, of Sayreville, turned to Lyft last month when she needed to pick up her car from the dealership.
“It was a nine-minute ride, no big deal,” she says, “and I didn’t even think about it again until I saw the alert on my phone that my credit card had been charged over a week later.”
The charge was for a $100 cleanup fee. The driver claimed Deyhle had urinated on her seat. Deyhle vehemently denies that and says the photos the Lyft driver submitted as evidence were suspect at best. The area where she was sitting appeared totally dry, but there were droplets of liquid all around it.
“Did I stand in the seat and then pee in a spraying fashion and then jump out of the car?” she asks incredulously. “Because how are there still droplets on both sides of the leather seats? None of this makes sense. It’s absurd. She didn’t even try that hard to fake it.”
But despite sending multiple emails for weeks, Deyhle was unable to get Lyft to refund the cleaning fee.
She isn’t the only one who had this experience. Last year, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about “vomit fraud” after it said hundreds of Lyft passengers complained about being wrongfully charged by their drivers. The agency now counsels rideshare passengers to document conditions.
“Before you get in, take a picture of the backseat where you’re going to sit, and do that again when you get out,” advises Luana Lewis of the BBB of Metro New York.
After weeks of refusing Deyhle’s refund requests, Lyft pulled a U-turn once Kane In Your Corner got involved. The company released a statement saying, “After completing our investigation, we made the determination to refund the damage fee."
But despite winning her battle, Deyhle wants Lyft to change its policies to give passengers more protection. According to Lyft’s terms of service, the company automatically bills customers’ credit cards when a driver complains about damage. The company typically only investigates after a customer disputes the charge. But by that time, the credit card has typically already been billed.