What started as a very pleasant exchange between an Uber driver and me quickly grew ugly — when he refused to drive me home.
I Just Wanted to Get Home
I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) after midnight a couple of weeks ago. I was up early that morning and tired; I attended the Chicago Seminars and then flew home via Detroit.
I walked to the LAXit (pronounced “L.A. Exit” — get it?) section at LAX to order a ride share home. That’s the only place non-premium ride-sharing vehicles may pick up LAX passengers.
Uber was about five bucks cheaper than Lyft, so I went with that. (I selected the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card for payment because it awards 10% cash back on Uber rides through November 2024.)
My driver (we’ll call him “Bob”) had over 3,000 rides and something like a 4.8 or 4.9 rating to his name. Great!
Bob arrived a few minutes later. He was a wiry guy, maybe in his 50s, and had a hippy-ish thing going on.
He greeted me warmly while putting my luggage in the trunk. (I told him I could but he insisted.)
I got in the car and we made some friendly small talk while settling in. He tapped his phone and loaded the itinerary.
“Oh, no,” Bob said.
“What?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” he repeated, “I’m so sorry.”
“What’s the problem?” I said, even though I already had a hunch. I live in the western part of the San Fernando Valley — about a 35-minute ride at that time of night. Still, I’ve had no problems getting rides home, even when traffic makes the ride two hours. Plus, many places in L.A. are (at least) a half-hour drive away.
“I’m not going that way.”
“Yes, you are. You’re taking me home.”
“Chris, I’m so sorry, I can’t.”
My tone grew sharp.
“Why not?” I said.
“Because I planned to go home after dropping you off.”
“Which you still can, if you don’t want to pick up any more rides after you take me home.”
“No, no. You live too far away. See?” He zoomed out his map, pointed to my house, and then pointed to a spot in West Los Angeles. “That’s where I live. This doesn’t work for me.”
“So, you’re refusing to take me,” I said. “That’s (fertilizer).”
“You’re kicking me out of the car?”
“I’m so sorry.”
I got out of the car, got my suitcase out of the back, and got back on the curb. I wanted to scream at him — but knew that wouldn’t solve anything. Plus, plenty of people were holding cell phones; I didn’t need to become a viral moment!
Wait — it gets better.
I wandered away and wanted to find someone else to take me home. But I couldn’t search for another Uber — Bob hadn’t canceled the ride! I initiated a cancellation — but Uber warned me I’d be charged a cancellation penalty. Now, it was almost 1:00 AM. Fine. I’ll get it sorted out later. I canceled the ride and was hit with a $24.49 fee. Lovely.
I paid the extra five bucks out of principal and took a Lyft home. (10X on my Sapphire Reserve, of course. 🙂 ) I filed a complaint with Uber during my ride. They eventually gave me $24.49 in Uber Cash (not a refund). A few days later, they refunded the entire amount to my card.
Hello! You Accept Rides From a Major Airport!
Just over 33 million passengers arrived at LAX last year. And the Los Angeles metro area is massive. In fact, Los Angeles County could fit Manhattan, Boston, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and San Francisin within its borders — and still have plenty of space left over. That doesn’t take into account Orange County, either.
If you’re going to pick people up at an airport — especially LAX — be prepared to drive more than, like, five miles away.
I get that Bob probably wouldn’t have found anyone needing rides after dropping me off. But he still would’ve earned whatever price he accepted plus a good tip from this 4.98 star rider.
Am I missing something?
“He was working the system…and here’s what you should’ve done.”
One of my family members is a full-time rideshare driver. I shared this experience with him to learn more about ridesharing.
“That’s poor driver etiquette,” he said. “He shouldn’t have accepted (the ride) if he wasn’t willing to take it.”
First of all, Bob should’ve had an idea where he would take me. He should’ve been provided an approximate dropoff location (perhaps even cross-streets), distance in miles, and how much he’d earn.
“He was just lazy,” my family member said. “He was working the system.”
He also explained that Bob probably was looking for a big, fat ride. How so?
Well, I canceled the ride. So, Bob got a chunk of that cancellation fee. Plus, he was still parked at LAX with hundreds of people requesting rides (yes, at 1:00 AM on a Sunday). Who knows how long he kept this little game going until he found someone going to West L.A.?
Where did I go wrong? You probably already know.
“You should’ve told him, ‘Please cancel this ride right now’ before you got out of the car,” he said. “You’re not charged a cancellation fee if he won’t drive you.”
An Uber driver refused to drive me home from the airport because it meant going out of his way. If you run into a driver who won’t take you, make sure they cancel your ride so you’re not charged a cancellation fee.
However, I’ll still take Uber and Lyft because most of my experiences have been fine- if not great. I still remember some rides from years ago because the drivers were hilarious and had me in stitches, or they provided me with some helpful information, or were just exceptionally kind. Some rides had all three.
Have you ever been kicked out of a ride share because your destination was out of the way — or you did something else?
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