Uber and their new cancellation penalty.

Uber and their new cancellation penalty

Some Uber drivers and their riders get locked into a game of cancel chicken, and if the rider caves and hits cancel, it costs them a R55 fee.
Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler went looking for answers.


Cancel! No, you cancel!

Have you ever had an Uber driver cancel on you? It happened to our colleague WR one Sunday evening last month.

“I arrived at King Shaka International Airport and tried to hail an Uber. After 20 minutes of Uber drivers accepting and then cancelling my drive a taxi driver told me that I would struggle to find a driver due to the fact that the rides from the airport to my house in Umdloti was too short and drivers prefer accepting more profitable rides.

“Lo and behold an Uber driver finally accepts my request, but the app states that he is 18 minutes away from the airport. 

"Not having the time or patience to wait 18 minutes for a driver to take me on my 6KM journey and having phoned my neighbour for a ride instead, I requested that he cancel the trip, which he refused. 

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"I then became aware that a R55 penalty is charged when you cancel an Uber trip unless it is cancelled by the driver – which is understandable and noted in their terms and conditions. After a back and forth with the driver on the app I was forced to cancel the ride and pay a penalty, which was later refunded after I reported the incident.
"A Reddit forum revealed that many others are complaining about this.

"I understand that the drivers need to be protected from riders cancelling unfairly, but I was clearly baited into this.”

Also, he said, the Uber system made it almost impossible to lodge a formal complaint and the Uber driver doesn’t respond the phone calls or messages.

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"I am a regular user of Uber and I believe in mutually honest transactions, which did not happen here.

This is how Uber responded to my media query:

“Our Community Guidelines were developed to help make every experience feel safe and respectful. Part of these community guidelines include a cancellation policy, and Uber has systems in place to review excess cancellations on the part of drivers. If Uber finds that this has been breached, this could result in a driver losing access to the Uber platform.

"You can cancel a trip at any time through the Uber app, but may be charged a cancellation fee if you cancel after you're matched with your driver. Cancellation fees pay driver-partners for the time and effort they spend getting to your location. Uber has also updated their cancelation fee policy to help make Uber a better experience for both riders and drivers.
“The new cancellation fee will be based on the distance travelled and time spent by driver-partners while driving to a requested pickup point. We know that plans change and that a trip may be requested by accident, which is why the fee will only apply if a ride is cancelled three minutes after it’s requested.

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“So request a ride when you’re ready to go to avoid a cancellation fee.”

The new cancellation fees range, for example, from R10 to R45 for UberGo, R15 to R55 for UberX, and R30 to R90 for UberBlack.
If you believe you were charged a cancellation fee in error, please let us know via the  ‘Help’ section of your Uber app.

But you won't be charged a cancellation fee if:
*Your driver took much longer than expected to arrive; or
*Uber detects that your driver isn't making much progress to your pickup location

If you believe you were charged a cancellation fee in error, let Uber know via the ‘Help’ section of your Uber app and select the options available.

Kulula ticket credit - use or lose

When Comair went into business rescue last May, those with “unflown” British Airways and Kulula tickets for flights from March 14 to November 30 were given the option becoming a creditor or retaining the value of their tickets in what Comair called a "travel bank account”. 

Time is now running out for those who banked their ticket value - it must be used for travel before the end of November this year.
"This cannot be extended as creditors and other interested and affected parties have accepted the business rescue plan,” a Comair spokesman told me last week.

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And what about the fact that Kulula and British Airways haven’t been flying for the past two months as a voluntary response to the adjusted Level 4 lockdown which restricted travel in and out of Gauteng - shouldn’t that end-November cut-off be extended as a result?
No can do, says Comair. “Our customers have had the opportunity to use the value of their tickets since December, "and can still do so from September 1 until 30 November”.

Caroline Fieldgate is among the many affected Kulula customers. Kulula cancelled her tickets in March 2020 due to lockdown and she opted to save the value of it in their “travel bank”. 
The airline did not operate for most of 2020.

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“I spoke to two call centre agents last week who sent my new flight request off to BA to fly to Durban in December, December being the only time I can take leave this year and travel,  to see my mother who I have not seen since lock down. 

“I received a confirmation from BA that flights have been booked - not a word was said about the November cut-off. 
‘But when called BA to confirm the fare difference and tell them that the return date was wrong, I was told that they could not book my ticket because Kulula’s “open” ticket was only valid until 30 November.”

"Why should I lose out on my ticket because I can’t travel until December due to work and illness?” she asked. 
“And besides, Kulula has not been in operation for the last two months so my flight time legally should be extended to accommodate the time that it was not flying.”

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Comair’s response to that is that its “travel bank" customers have had the opportunity to use the value of their tickets since December, "and can still do so from September 1 until 30 November”.

According to Consumer Protection Act, pre-paid good and services have to be redeemable for at least three years, but most airlines flout that.

"In the time it’s taken to get absolutely nowhere with Comair,” Caroline says, "I have missed out on two Kulula ticket sales now tickets for December have gone up by R1000.”

*By the way, if you had bought tickets to fly on Kulula or BA between June 28 and August 31 this year, your ticket will remain valid until 31 August 2022, and no change of booking fee or fare difference will be charged. 

Contact Wendy

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

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