2017 will end on a Sunday, making a compelling argument for everybody to stay home and see if Mariah Carey pulls it off this year. But most of us will probably go to a friend’s house or brave the clubs. Ideally, you have a designated driver, but if that’s not workable, here’s what to watch out for.
- First, general safety tips: Always text a friend or emergency contact the details of your ride, which is built right into the app, and have your phone ready. Check the license plate of any car before you get in to make sure it matches with the app. And, no matter who you are, always travel in groups, preferably with a sober friend. And don’t forget, Uber has a notoriously terrible customer service department, and while other ride-share apps do better, keep in mind they’re not as regulated or as heavily tracked.
- Don’t forget that drivers have problems too: Keep in mind, drivers need to be just as on guard for thieves and scammers as customers need to be on guard for shifty drivers. Make a point of identifying yourself by your first name and asking the driver their name, and of course, always be polite to the driver. So with all that said, what should you watch out for?
- Fake drivers: Unlicensed taxi companies have been around forever. Depending on who you ask, rideshare companies themselves are unlicensed taxi services. But in this case, there are unlicensed drivers who aren’t even on Uber. Be wary of people telling you you’ve been given a “free upgrade,” drivers who need you to tell them the address and fare, and drivers who don’t seem to have the app open. If it feels weird, don’t get in.
- Getting ditched: Prices on ride-share apps are going to be astronomical, but there’s always got to be that one guy looking to squeeze one more buck out of an already rich sale. Look for cars that circle the block and drive right by you on the app, and report them via the app.
- The ride cancellation: A particularly common one, the driver cancels your ride right before you get in, and then pretends there’s a problem and that you pay them directly, outside of the app, use another app, or another “consideration” or you’ll be ditched at the curb. The solution? Take the ditching and report the driver. Whatever they want, it’s not worth it.
- Paying tolls: Drivers may ask you to pay tolls in cash. Don’t: It’s usually handled through the app and you pay the toll as part of your overall fare.
- The “cleaning fee”: This usually comes up the day after; you get hit with a $50 cleaning fee that wasn’t you. To be fair to Uber drivers, ferrying drunks around means that they’ve got their fair share of messes to clean up in their cars, and more often than not if the fee is assessed to the wrong customer, it’s an honest mistake. The best solution: Discreetly snap a picture of the cabin before you leave the car if you can.
Keep in mind, the vast majority of drives on ride-sharing apps are problem free. You likely won’t run into these issues at all. But, if you do, now you’re prepared.