CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – It’s been coined the term, ‘vomit fraud,’ and it’s happening all across the nation. People are getting incorrectly and unfairly charged by Uber and Lyft drivers for damage fees that they didn’t necessarily leave behind.
It happened just this week to a man taking a Lyft from the Avid X Change Music Factory in Charlotte.
“This is ridiculous,” Paul said. “I ride Lyft a lot.”
The follow-up photos to his last ride, though, are enough to make it his final one.
“Oh no,” he said. “I’ll never take Lyft again, no.”
He ordered a Lyft as he always would on April 7.
“The ride had nothing unusual,” he said.
However, what was unusual was the $80 damage fee he was e-mailed the following morning.
“I wrote to them and asked what it was for,” he said. “And they said it was for having an open container of beer and spilling it in the car. None of this was true. I don’t even drink and I didn’t have a water bottle with me, let alone beer.”
Lyft then sent Paul what the ride-share company deemed ‘photographic evidence.’ Two photos of some sort of spill that Paul swears didn’t come from him.
“I loaded the photos into Photoshop to look at the metadata that shows the time and date and all that information of every single photo, and it had been removed.”
It’s a scheme coined ‘vomit fraud,’ and it’s apparently happening to people all across the area.
“I’d say in the last year, we’ve received a couple dozen of these types of reports just in the Charlotte market,” said Better Business Bureau President Tom Bartholomy.
“Their response was that I signed a ‘terms of agreement’ when I signed up for Lyft and in that, they could charge me $150 at the driver’s discretion for any damages.”
It’s a lesson Paul says he will certainly remember the next time he needs a ride.
“I don’t trust them,” he said. “Even if they were to reverse policy or refund my money, I’ll never ride with Lyft again.”
The BBB says the best way to protect yourself is to take photos of seats and doors before and after your ride.
Queen City News reached out to Lyft for a response, and the company wrote:
“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide further information about the case to a third party unless the authorities reach us in regards to this matter.”