“it will tell me my fare is X dollars, but then I leave and receive the receipt 30 seconds later with an additional 1-3 dollars added”


“Dear PoPville,

What is my recourse here? I travel with Uber taxi 2-3 times a week from my home to my work (or vice versa). I know the average charge, and it is between 7-9 dollars base fare. However, several times in the past few months, I have noticed that the taxi driver has somehow “inflated” the base charge of my fare. I will glance at the payment screen and it will tell me my fare is X dollars, but then I leave and receive the receipt 30 seconds later with an additional 1-3 dollars added. I know that the screen considers any true extras when telling me the fare charge (it says “amount due”, so it is already a final amount), as I use taxi service (without Uber) quite a bit. I don’t travel with luggage or an extra passenger, so I cannot understand how any extra charge would be justified. And, it would show on the “amount due” screen before I exit the vehicle.

This morning, I again took an Uber. I glanced at the screen before exiting the vehicle and the charge was $8.09. When I received my receipt a minute later (will be sent by separate email to you – please block my identifying information if you publish it), my base fare was $10.09. I immediately emailed Uber to report this. Please see the absolutely ridiculous response below. I understand that Uber does not “control the fare set”. I am not addressing that; I am reporting a dishonest contractor. This is not the first time this has happened, and Uber’s response is always a brush off. If it has happened to me 3 times in the past 2 months or so, I have to believe this happens to other people, too.

Would the taxi cab commission address this problem? I know it seems quite petty for $2, but it has happened more than once. And I don’t relish the thought of a $14 cab ride (even if it is my fault that I am always late and need a cab!) to work.”

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87 Comment

  • When you use Uber to book a cab, my understanding is that there is a manual step in the process that I’ve wondered drivers would take advantage of. The driver is supposed to enter the amount shown on the taxi meter into the Uber app. This happens manually and it would be extremely easy to enter a different amount if you were a driver and just claim that you made an honest mistake on the occasion that someone noticed and called you out.

    Might be a good idea to take your own picture of the meter as you’re leaving the cab to make sure this doesn’t happen / give you something to email to Uber if this takes place.

    • Adam

      Correct. Driver punches in the fare off the taxi’s meter directly into the app. The $2 booking fee gets tacked on afterwards, along with the default auto-gratuity of 20%. (This is a default, and as mentioned below, can be adjusted thru your online uber account NOT thru the app.) My guess is that the $2 booking fee is relatively new, thus the shock.


      Being a taxicab that can grab street hails while also receiving uberTAXI requests is pretty much the driver holy grail. Cabbies know better than to mess around with an uberTAXI fare because losing the privilege would be a huge hit in the wallet. Also, no one forced OP to use any service…OP could have walked that in a more direct route in about 20 minutes.

      • Adam

        Ackkk, I can’t read….driver tacked on an extra $2. Not cool.

        • exactly. I fully expected the $2 add on here. I also expected the 20% gratuity. What changed here is the “base fare.” I use the service frequently and the base fare is always 7-9 dollars. Here the driver manipulated it (I assume by tagging on “extras” as can be done on his machine) to be a base fare of $2 more. I’ve had this happen several times — sometimes it is only $1 and once it was $3.

      • Adam

        And now that I think about it, I’m sure he’s just tapping the add’l passenger charge at the end of the ride to make it legit ($1/each).

        • That’s what I was thinking. I just don’t know how to fight it. I love the Uber Taxi app, because it is often hard to flag a taxi on my street (and calling a cab doesn’t always ensure one shows up). But this is getting ridiculous.

          • Adam

            Take a picture of the meter when the ride is over and let cabbie know why you’re doing it. Word must be spreading amongst them if it’s happening often, but not every time. He got tipped 50% on an $8 ride…nice gig if you can get it. Gotta nip it in the bud.

  • alphatango

    Not meaning to troll, but “What is my recourse here?” I’d simply say don’t use Uber Taxi. The whole point behind Uber is that it’s soooooooooooo much better than the taxis in DC. Use UberX and call it a day.

    If Uber can’t do anything about it, and you’ve only had two or three trips like this, it isn’t worth the fight with the Commission.

    • I have a feeling that using UberTaxi, for some people, sidesteps some of the issues with relying on DC cabs – namely that you can request one and they show up, you have ID of the person driving you, and you have live tracking of where they are taking you.

      But, yes, I’m generally with you.

      • UberX does all the things you just listed out.
        I guess OP just has an endearing love for stinky DC cabs?

        • +1. I had the same thought. Are they supposed to be cheaper? Or more plentiful? (I’ve never bothered with UberTaxi as opposed to UberX)

    • The DC Taxi Commission developed its own app called DC TAXI RIDER. I haven’t used it, but presumably it’s got a more thorough complaint process? Try using it instead of Uber Taxi.

  • What’s wrong with UberX? Surge pricing? My only suggestion is to never use taxi cabs if you can avoid it, even through the Uber app because you are still relying on the horribly bureacratic taxi commission to enforce any rules. A friend convinced me to try UberTaxi during Halloween and even with UberX in surge mode the taxi was still way more expensive.

    • Or just try Lyft. I’ve always had extremely pleasant interactions with the drivers I have had there, and I find their pricing completely reasonable (even in the event of surge pricing).

    • Honestly, I’ve gone back to taxis (sometimes through uber, sometimes just flag one down). I’ve had one too many X drivers not be able to find me, or not have any room in the trunk, or just drive the other direction even though they apparently agreed to pick me up. But it’s nice to have options. All crappy, but options nonetheless.

      • Ashy Oldlady

        I’ve done the same. Too many Uber and Lyft drivers have been unable to find me, have taken a longer route out of ignorance, or have driven straight into really bad backups that a more experienced driver would have known to avoid. And for the trips I usually take, regular cabs really aren’t that much more expensive. And they seem to be getting better.

      • Me too. If I’m downtown during the workweek, then chances are that I’m taking a work-related trip and can’t afford to be late while some Uber X driver haplessly drives the wrong way past me on the street. Taxis tend to be way better at getting to the airport quickly, too.

      • Same here. Trust the devil you know. I have been dealing with shady cab drivers for decades and I prefer them to a random driver….plus I like to pay cash.
        When my wife is alone she won’t take taxis or uberx–only uberBlack.

        • I’m with you. Uber drivers – be they X, Black, or XL – may be more personable than taxi drivers but they are generally clueless about getting around DC quickly. After one too many unsafe maneuvers by an uber driver – mid-block U-turns directly through oncoming traffic, left from right-hand lane across oncoming traffic, driving the wrong way down a one-way street – I have given up on them. And don’t get me started about the shitty double-parking that uber drivers all seem to feel entitled to do. At least DC taxi drivers know the DC Commission may one day harangue them for bad driving; with uber there’s no adult supervision at all.

    • Original Poster here. I have tried UberX a few times. The wait is generally longer and the drivers (in my limited experience — only used 3-4 times) just don’t know their way around the city.

    • west_egg

      “What’s wrong with UberX?”
      UberX = random people in random cars, who are usually bad drivers and virtually always lacking any sense of direction. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are just that–exceptions.

      • I just pull up Waze and give UberX drivers directions myself. An extra step for me but it’s better than paying more, getting there late/stuck in traffic, etc.

  • Go to your Uber profile online. There is an automatic tip setting under the UberTaxi settings. You can change the % as you see fit.

    • thanks for that tip, but I don’t mind the 20% tip. I just don’t want the underlying meter charge to be artifically inflated!

  • Full disclosure- Not an Uber User. My girlfriend is and she noticed the same charge as well. Apparently this is a new charge related to Uber now performing background checks on drivers.

    • UberX lists a $1.35 “safe rides fee.” But I don’t know why they’d disclose it for one service, and not for another. (It is not noted on the UberTaxi tab of their website like it is on the UberX and UberXL tabs.)

      • Pretty sure there is no safe rides fee for UberTaxi. I think John Snow is referring to this charge in UberX and not Uber Taxi. But I don’t think the safe rides fee is what the OP is talking about anyway–pretty sure that would have been disclosed on his receipt, and he’s referring to a change in his “base fare.”

        • There aren’t. the only “extra” fee you should pay using Uber Taxi is the $2 amount to “call” the taxi (and a set tip).

  • when you looked at the fare meter, was the $2 booking fee listed next to it on the extras side? it looks like he added that in at the end of the trip to the base fare, which is normal if you were just paying cash or cab credit card, but a problem if uber is also adding that themselves after the driver finishes.

    • I bet this is what happened. I am almost positive that the extras aren’t added to the “amount due” until the driver presses a button at the end.

    • The App actually automatically adds in the booking charge. The taxi cab driver does not.

      • so, you see a base fare of $8 and know that 20% gratuity and a $2 booking fee will be charged. Instead, my driver charged me a base far of $10 PLUS a 20% gratuity and $2 booking charge.

  • UberTaxi is an appeasement to the DC Taxi Commission- at least from what I can tell. Do not use it.

    • Agreed. Never use the Taxi option.

      Use UberX, or Lyft, or Split, or Car2Go, or Bridj, or CaBi.

      There is simply no reason to ever take an old fashioned cab in DC any more.

      • I you’re standing there, it’s raining, there’s one right in front of you. That seems like a reason. You forgot your phone ,you don’t drive, you broke your leg and can’t rise a bike… there are many reasons.

        • west_egg

          Maybe you just don’t feel like giving the driver turn-by-turn directions.

          • Tsar of Truxton

            Uh, with uberx, the passenger can input the destination and then the app gives the driver turn-by-turn, using Waze or Google Maps or whatever it uses.

          • west_egg

            That’s no better. I prefer that my driver has familiarity with the city, which is often directly related to confidence and efficiency, and means they’re less likely to slow down to 3mph in the middle of a busy street because Garmin failed to tell them to switch lanes in time.

        • Ehhhhhhh- Ill still skip one of the DC Pirate Cabs that have shoddy/shady inspection records, choose to deny people rides to other parts of the city. Ill take a Bike Share instead.

      • Driver who (odds are) knows his way on around the city and choke points to avoid. Properly insured vehicle driven by person with actual background check. Photo showing driver is the person who has permission to drive that car.

        • Although the convenience gets me, too, and I do use UberX as well. But don’t get the sentiment that there are no benefits for taking a cab, ever.

  • It’s odd that the driver could have messed with the metered fare, unless he has to manually put it into the computer to generate your fare. Assuming that is not the case, could he have kept rolling down the block to generate another $2 worth of distance before hitting the button to show the ride was over?
    I’d like to think there was an innocent explanation, but you can never discount shenanigans with a DC cab driver.
    As for your recourse, you could email Uber back and explain the situation to them again – the driver appears to have manipulated the metered fare. You could dispute the charge with your credit card company tell them you owe $2 less.

    • I don’t believe he kept rolling, because I received the receipt less than a minute later. He couldn’t have trumped up $2 in charges by then. I think he charged me on the “extras” button cabs have for additional passengers or luggage or wait time, etc.

  • Why not use the homegrown shared ride startup, Split? they do real shared rides, so the prices are super low (often half the price of an uber or less). And I’ve never had a problem with them playing games the way uber does.

  • Contact Uber’s customer service if you really feel there’s an issue. They’re pretty fast and understanding.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      customer service response was included here.

      • ChenChen

        Our office uses uber a lot and we have had some issues where I had to talk to customer service. They are generally pretty helpful and understanding in my experience.

        It looks like Uber skimmed the OP’s feedback without properly reading what the actual issue was. If the OP writes back again, it might help? I’ve done that a lot and they always give me what I want in the end.


        • I tried that. here was my response to the above UBER support member:

          “this is the kind of canned answer that is unacceptable. I am not telling you that my fare was “more expensive than expected.” I am telling you that the driver cheated. He cheated on the fare. I understand that you do not “control” the fares set, but this guy didn’t follow the set fares. He wrongly inflated my fare by (I assume) charging me for extras that did not exist. Surely you care that people you contract with are cheating customers?”

          And here was Uber’s follow up response:

          “Sorry to hear about the recent TAXI issue. All metered fare rates are set by the city of Washington D.C., and specifically the department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection. Uber has no control over that pricing, nor do we have any ability to change those based on route, suburb rates, etc.
          For more info check out our taxi related support documents and the City’s website.”

          they simply refuse to recognize what I am saying. I’m not challenging the rate; I am challenging the cheating.

          • west_egg

            At that point I’d probably send back a two-sentence reply: “Does anyone actually read these emails? Because if you did, you’d realize that you’re answering a different question than the one I asked.”

          • +100 to west_egg.

  • I’m confused. Isn’t the issue the $2 booking fee that is showing up on the receipt you screen shot here? The meter would not show that would it? The $2 booking fee is added if the cab company sends a cab to where you are, whether you use Uber or not. They look at Uber as the same as calling Diamond cab and requesting they send a cab to you. I thought this was standard operating procedure for Uber Taxi?

    • The $2 fee is added by Uber. The base far on the Uber receipt shows as $10.09 while according to the OP, the meter said the fare was $8.09. It looks like the driver added the $2 fee himself, so the OP was essentially charged the fee twice. I think Uber is trying to be unhelpful to dissuade you from taking a taxi and instead sticking with UberX. BUT since thanks to Uber you should have the taxi’s info, the OP should file a complaint with the taxi commission.

      • that’s the odd thing, though. I went on the website and now I can’t access the cab driver’s info! Does anyone know a way I can do this?

        I guess I had hoped that Uber would help because its contractor is cheating the customer — i.e., then I could avoid the taxicab commission.

        • Maybe Uber has it? Write them a super nice response thanking them for suggesting you contact the Taxi Commission, and ask for the info so you can do that.

    • No. My issue was that the fare should have been $8 plus $2 booking plus 20% gratuity. When I received my receipt, it showed a $10 base fare plus $2 booking plus 20% gratuity.

      • Gotcha.

        I have almost always gotten a personal (not automated) response by just forwarding a receipt to the DC Uber customer service email address and complaining. Don’t use the app.

  • People have this really weird love affair for Uber. Taxis are not the devil, I use both, and find the pricing to be even depending on the day/time

    • “I understand that Uber does not “control the fare set”. I am not addressing that; I am reporting a dishonest contractor.”
      Sounds like Uber, or whoever you are talking to at Uber, doesn’t have any interest in whether a particular contractor is dishonest. The responses you have received from the company are assuring you that Uber can’t change the meter rates. The responses aren’t assuring you that individual drivers can’t change meter rates.

      Here’s another potential recourse for you. Once you have completed the payment process sit in the car for another 30 seconds until you get the receipt. If there is a discrepancy, ask the driver to explain.

  • I believe taxi drivers have always charged the ~$2 “dispatch” fee for Uber Taxi. That is not the same as the $2 Uber “booking” fee, which is new-ish (maybe as of a year ago?) I think you are looking at the meter fare without the dispatch fee and deciding that is the fare, hence the $2 extra that you think gets tacked on.

    • This was exactly my thought too, and it sounds like it is probably the case. Without Uber, you pay the fare on the left of the taxi meter based on mile/minutes added to the fare on the right, which is a flag fee plus other fees. The uber $2 fee has always been added on top of that whole thing.

  • Get up a bit earlier and take the bus for $1.75? Looking at the map that’s probably only a 10-15 minute bus ride. I can’t even imagine complaining about a few extra dollars when you already pay that much for a taxi to work 2-3 times a week.

    • That’s not really germane to the OP’s beef, which is that the Uber taxi driver was overcharging him/her. Maybe it’s all the more of an issue to the OP because he/she is already paying for much to get to work and doesn’t want to pay another $2 on top of that.
      Just because there’s a cheaper option out there doesn’t mean that it’s OK for the more expensive option not to function properly.

      • Sure but if you use the cheaper option you’ll never even have to spend time worrying or caring about whether you’re being charged correctly AND you’ll save money.

        • Not saying this is the case here, but can you please consider for a moment that sometimes people might be late to work on a routine basis because they might be caring for children, or a sick or elderly family member, or have some other life issue to deal with? You take the bus. That’s fine. I get up early and take the bus. OP is an adult and can decide if she wants to take the bus from here on out without you telling her.

    • Please direct all future life decisions to also anon, who is here to tell you how to live your life.

    • Thanks, Dad.

    • Stop blaming the victim!

  • alissaaa

    Do you get the taxi number through Uber Taxi? Report the driver to the Taxi Commission…I’m sure they won’t do anything, but it’s something…

  • Why use Uber to hail a taxi?? Get an UberX… the base fare is already like 30% cheaper than a taxi, so even if it is surging at 1.5X you’re still good to go.

  • I take uber x 5-10 times a week and have for almost 3 years. I find that when a driver doesnt know how to get somewhere, putting the address in the app greatly helps and if there’s still the need, verbal directions. Though, my general impression of uber x drivers are that they are generally competent, but sometimes lacking in specific knowledge. I might have had less than 5 actual problems with routing and I’ve probably given lower than 5 stars fewer than 10 times.

    I’ve had far more problems with DC cabs. FAR more.

    • Yeah, and UberX drivers take direction happily. Try giving directions to a cab driver and risk getting screamed at and thrown out of the car.

  • I don’t have an answer for you with Uber, but there’s a new DC Taxi app available on the app store. It’s the official one developed by the taxi commission. I haven’t used it yet, so I can’t personally recommend it, but maybe you could be a guinea pig and report back to us.

    • I’ve used the new DC Taxi app three times and it has worked well. I pay in the cab as I have not added my credit card to the app yet. I believe they haven’t announced it because they are still signing up and training drivers. WAMU did a piece on it earlier this week.

    • hah, I just said that. Guess I should refresh the page before I post 🙂

  • Not helpful for your current problem, but the uber-style app made by DC to hail DC cabs is out (in beta). It is called DC Taxi, you can try using that in the future when you want to take a cab instead of uber. I haven’t used it yet, and not all of the taxis have it so I don’t know how responsive it will be, but you should give it a shot.

  • An alternative to taking a picture of the meter is to take a screenshot of your phone before you leave the cab. Not perfect, but at least you will have evidence to counter the amount shown in the subsequent email.

    The problem with UberX & Lyft, is not that they don’t know how to get from point A to point B – anyone can follow a map. It’s that they don’t know the BEST way to get through the city. They are less adept at avoiding high traffic areas and knowing alternatives when unexpected traffic occurs. I’m happy to give better directions when I know them, but as someone who primarily takes public transportation, I don’t always know the best way to get around, so I can’t offer alternatives.

    As several people have said, none of the options are perfect, but it’s better to have options than not.

  • Howdy, I’m a part time Uber and Lyft driver. I’m not familiar with Uber taxi but both for lyft and uber we, as drivers, have ZERO control about your bill. We turn on the app and turn off the app, we do not punch in the amount to be charged and we certainly do not get a tip unless you physically give us one (UBER) or add one to your lyft ride via the app.

    When you use Uber/Lyft you are hiring drivers who (mostly) do not drive full time. I always ask riders if they have a preferred route or app for navigation. Otherwise, I use WAZE. However, if you have a concern about the way your driver is driving or the direction he/she is going, then say something. Unlike a taxi driver, your uber/lyft driver might not have a preferred route, but you might.

    That being said, here are some helpful tips to riders using LYFT/UBER (I too am a rider)

    * Look where you put your pick up address, move the pin around to a location that would be convenient for a driver to pull over. Riders OFTEN will select an address where it is impossible/dangerous to pull over. If you know your address is in such a location, then move the pin to a corner or somewhere where you know the driver can pull over and get you.
    *If you know you will be running late and the driver will have to wait, contact them via text or a phone call. We don’t get paid waiting for you (UBER) until we have waited 5 minutes. It’s rude. If you are running late, go ahead and contact us and tell us and also ask us to turn on the meter. It’s not our fault you called when you were not ready to be picked up. We get penalized when we cancel a trip.
    *If you have special pick up instructions, feel free to call/text us before we arrive.
    *UBER riders, your driver does not know what you look like. He/she is desperately looking around trying to find someone that might look like a “sarah” etc. It’s really hard to spot someone in a crowd. When you know your driver is approaching, look up, maybe waive! maybe make eye contact. You know what we look like, you know our car information.
    *Lyft riders, please upload a photo. See above.
    *If you are not happy with where or how your driver is driving…say something! We cannot read your minds, we might not be from your neighborhood and might not know there is construction/congestion etc that you might know about. Talk to us. Tell us what you know. We want this to be a good experience for you.
    *No, we do not all provide tissues, snacks, water. We do not get paid a lot of money, fees are taken out of our rides as well, and sometimes we are literally just breaking even.
    *I don’t care what UBER says, tip your driver. Especially if you went a long way out of a central part of town and they have to drive the whole way back without any chance of a new rider. I’ve literally had to drive an hour out of the suburb without a new rider.
    *Lyft…tip your drivers. Lyft makes it easy!

    On a personal note, I love driving part time. I love talking to riders. See the tips above, it will make your experience and our experience better.

    Female UBER/LYFT part-time driver.

    • another tip: please put in your destination address. It saves you time and money and it saves the driver time and headaches.

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