Alec Nowers wants Uber to refund his $100 credit, but the company won’t help him. Can he get his money back?
I have an account with Uber. Earlier this year, I added my granddaughter to my account so she could have easy travel to my house in Mercer Island, Wash., from the University of Washington in Seattle.
I added her successfully, but when she tried to access the account, Uber said there was “not enough money” in the account for her to use the service. I was puzzled because Uber had my credit card on record. There was never a question of having money in the account. But I dutifully added $100 to the account.
However, Uber still denied their service to my granddaughter.
So I opened a Lyft account, which solved the problem. My granddaughter can now use that account for rides.
Meanwhile, I wanted the $100 back from Uber. I have emailed and called the company repeatedly, but no joy. On the last call I made, a representative told me the problem had to be handled by the accounts department and that they would call me back. No one called back.
I just want to get my $100 back. Can you help? — Alec Nowers, Mercer Island, Wash.
Uber should have allowed your granddaughter to use your account. Uber offers a Family Profile, where you can add anyone, as long as they’re at least 18 years old and have an Uber account. When your granddaughter tried to hail an Uber, it should have worked.
Why did an Uber representative recommend adding money to your account? Why not just help you add your credit card to your granddaughter’s profile? I asked Uber to clarify what happened to you, but it did not respond.
Uber’s customer service department is highly automated, and if I had to guess, I’d say you were dealing with an AI chatbot instead of a real person. And if you’ve ever spent any amount of time talking to a chatbot, then you know they are heavy on the “artificial” and light on the “intelligence.”
I like your solution, which was switching to Lyft. In a perfect world, you would switch to a competitor when a company gives you substandard service. But in a world where businesses are consolidating quickly — and that’s particularly true for airlines — your strategy is not always possible.
Here’s another thing you could have done: I publish the names, email addresses and phone numbers of the Uber company executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. You could have emailed one of them and hopefully resolved this problem quickly.
Why couldn’t Uber just send your credit back as cash? Because it considers the credit a gift card, and gift card credits are not refundable, returnable, or redeemable for cash “except where required by law,” according to Uber. And under Washington State law, Uber doesn’t have to refund your gift card (it should, but that’s a topic for another time). So once you give Uber your cash, it’s theirs.
You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted Uber on your behalf, and it refunded the $100 credit.
About this story
Uber is a thorn in our readers’ side, generating more than its fair share of cases. But this one was a little more complex than usual and required a little extra time to resolve. As a side note, my team never knows if Uber will respond to our requests for help. Yes, it’s that big — and impersonal. This story was researched, written and fact-checked by Christopher Elliott, edited by Andy Smith and his team and illustrated by Dustin Elliott.