Uber charges rider cleaning fee for mess she claims she didn’t make

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- A woman has a warning to anyone who uses a ride-sharing app. She was recently charged, and later refunded, for a hefty cleaning fee for a mess she said she didn’t make.

“I was totally baffled. A cleaning fee? What do you mean?” Rheanna Brown said.

What started as a routine Uber ride for Brown soon turned into a sticky situation.

“White, liquidy gross looking stuff,” Brown said.

After clocking out from her job in Highlands Ranch on April 15, Brown hopped into an Uber with her sister. She said the driver dropped the women off at their home, about five miles away.

“I got an email. They say please rate your driver. I did that gave him a five star," Brown said. "Then I got an email that said thank you for riding with Uber your total was $5.48 and I was like OK.”

But the next day, Brown said she got an alert from Uber, informing her she was been charged $155.48 for a cleaning fee for spilling what she said looks to be a milkshake in the back seat.

“I was like what the heck? I didn’t even have any food or drink,” Brown said.

Her driver provided convincing pictures to Uber of a splattered mess coating the door and back seat floor, right in the spot where Brown said her sister was sitting.

“It’s seriously impossible. They made it look staged,” Brown said.

Brown emailed the company to dispute the claim, only to find out she had been denied.

“It said we are unable to refund this cleaning fee. It’s important we collect this money so drivers can keep their vehicles clean,” Brown read from the email.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers discovered Brown is not alone, reports of the same cleaning fee scam is circulating across different states.

A company spokesman provided FOX 31 with this statement:

"Uber is always evaluating its customer service processes and looking for ways to better serve our riders and drivers. We recognize there are challenges for our support teams to look into these types of situations and so we are enhancing our internal processes and investing in additional resources when investigating cleaning fee claims.

“While messes can happen in moving vehicles, we are actively looking into reports where fraud may be detected and will take the appropriate actions on those accounts.”

Brown said she was eventually fully refunded for the cleaning fee, but now takes a picture during every Uber ride.

“I always take pictures now, so I’ll actually have proof at that point if this happens again,” Brown said.

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