Channel 3 is learning about a potential scam that is targeting Uber customers.
One woman says she was scammed into a hefty "clean up" fee after her Uber driver sent fake vomit pictures to the company.
It's not the first time Madison Akins has used the popular car service, but she says it is the first time her fare has ever totaled $163 dollars for an eight mile drive.
Akins says she and her cousin were leaving a Chattanooga Football Club game at Finely Stadium on Tuesday, when she requested an Uber. She says her Uber app showed it would be a cheap ride, but that wasn't the case.
"The next day I check my banking and I'm down $160 from an Uber ride that was supposed to cost like $5 to $13," said Akins. "Eight miles. Eight miles and $160 later. I wish I had canceled the Uber."
Akins says she was charged $150 dollars for a cleaning fee. Confused as to why, she says she requested a refund, but Uber replied saying the driver sent them pictures of vomit inside his car after Akins' ride.
"In this photo there's some kind of mess all over the dash, the center console and the driver seat and I'm like that never happened," said Akins. "I've actually ridden with this driver before; a year ago. I remembered him because he has crazy lights in his car and it's a lot of fun you know, but I'm very disappointed. He was able to quickly email in photos I assume and they took that as oh look it's a mess. It must be her fault she was in the car that night...He can pin it on me and I'm like that's not evidence."
Uber's website says customers are responsible for damage to the interior or exterior of a vehicle caused by incidents such as vomiting or food spills.
Here's what it says:
Cleaning fees are assessed and charged according to the extent of the damage.
There are 4 levels of severity. From low to high:
1. Damage that requires vacuuming or simple cleaning (e.g. small messes, food or drink spills) is charged $20.
2. Vomit or spills on the exterior of a vehicle are charged $40.
3. Vomit and larger food or beverage spills on fabric or other hard-to-clean surfaces inside a vehicle typically require detailing and are charged $80.
4. Significant amounts of bodily fluids (e.g. urine, blood, or vomit) on the vehicle's interior or messes that require cleaning between the window and door are charged $150.
Professional cleaning fees are based on nationwide industry averages. If charged to a rider, these fees are paid in full to the driver.
In the event you are charged a cleaning fee, you will receive an updated trip receipt.
A spokesperson with Uber tells Channel 3, a driver must submit a clean photo of any mess to request a cleaning fee. We're told Uber does have measures to catch false or fraudulent claims, but when asked what those measures include, the spokesperson said they could not release that information. However, they did say a 24/7 support team is supposed to investigate both sides.
"It's the easiest scam ever. You just make a mess; you take a picture and send it in and you get $150-$230 I believe with no questions asked," said Akins. "I'm entrusting my safety to Uber drivers, but also my finances. If I give you my credit card information I expect to be able to contact you if there is a charge that I have a dispute with."
Akins says Uber did send her confirmation of a refund, but that happened after Channel 3 contacted Uber.