Uber destroyed my mailbox and other tales of mayhem

In the real world, things break.

TVs give up the ghost minutes after their warranty expires. Cars break down.

And Uber destroys John Thedford’s mailbox.

You heard correct: Uber — or more specifically, an Uber driver — plowed into his mailbox. Obliterated the thing.

I’m not just telling you about his story for entertainment value, although I’ll admit, there is some. I’m bringing up his story because as is often the case, there’s what a company must do — and what it should do. And those may be two different things.

Uber destroyed his mailbox

“I ordered a car to pick me up at my home and take me to the airport for a business trip,” Thedford explains. “It was very early in the morning and the first driver arrived. I say ‘first’ because when I asked the driver to wait two minutes for me, he sped away and in the process knocked over and destroyed my mailbox to the tune of a $300 repair.”

Thedford has contacted Uber “numerous” times since then, supplying them with the details and a paid receipt for the repair of the mailbox.

“The company keeps responding asking either for the same information, or asking to verify my email address, and even claiming they never received my initial complaint and request for damages,” he says. “There is no one you can call at Uber and they are giving me the runaround about the repair.”

It’s been a month since Thedford started asking Uber for help, and he’s starting to get impatient.

Poor customer service

“This is extremely poor customer service on their part and they seem to be playing this game of crazy email replies with me,” he adds. “I want to be reimbursed for the $300 I had to spend to repair the mailbox that was run over by the Uber driver, plain and simple. It is a rental house, so I had to have the mailbox replaced or I would lose my security deposit.”

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Of course, Uber has its famous $1 million insurance policy that covers its liability to third parties from the moment a driver accepts a trip to its conclusion and technically should cover incidents like this.

But you know how insurance is, right? There are forms to fill out. Where’s the police report? There’s talk of a first driver who sped off, so do we have a record of that driver? Are you sure that was an Uber car? All these questions.

I’m pretty sure Uber can weasel out of this one if it wants to. But should it? I say: no.

The driver destroyed Thedford’s mailbox. He should pay.

But that’s the thing — the difference between must and should — that keeps us busy here on this site. Everyone knows that companies like Wal Mart, Audi and Uber can tell their customers to take a hike. That they legally have the right to deny their request when something breaks down, or breaks.

Seldom should they do it.

There’s a line between good customer service and the contractually correct thing, and it’s where this site lives. Our advocacy team will be following up with Uber to ensure that its highly publicized $1 million insurance policy covers the $300 repair bill. I’ll report back when it’s resolved.

Uber should:

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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