It seems some Uber drivers have found a way to rob the ride-hailing platform by abusing the cash payment option. So far, from iAfrikan's investigation, the method used seems to be limited to South Africa with only a low percentage of Uber customers we spoke with having experienced it.

In 2016 Uber started their cash payments experiment in South Africa. The option, which is also available in other Afrikan countries where Uber operates, allows customers of the ride-hailing platform to select cash as a payment option. Despite initial uproar from Uber drivers with this option in South Africa as they argued it presented them with a risk of being robbed, it appears they have eventually embraced it with some finding a way to abuse it.

Uber Cash payment

Uber cash payment option.

From the several Uber South Africa customers iAfrikan spoke to, the modus operandi of the drivers abusing the cash payment option is similar:

  • Customer hails Uber and selects "Cash" as a payment option on the app.

  • Uber car arrives as requested.

  • Without customer paying attention, Uber driver does not start the trip on his Uber app.

  • Uber trip commences (still not started on app) and five to ten minutes into the trip the driver will find a way to indicate that they either forgot to start the trip or in a few cases they told customers they intentionally didn't start the trip.

  • Uber driver proceeds to ask customer to check how much their Uber app estimated the trip would cost.

  • Once the estimated Uber trip amount is known, in all incidents known to iAfrikan, the Uber driver will then ask the customer to pay an amount slightly lower than the estimated amount in cash.

  • Uber driver cancels trip on the app during the trip and doesn't incur any penalty fee.

You might ask, what is wrong with this?

Firstly, Uber doesn't get their 20% to 25% comission that they charge driver partners for every trip. Also, given that some drivers work as employees for someone else who owns the car, the owner cannot track which trips were booked and therefore is not aware of the cash that exchanged hands.

Commenting on this issue to iAfrikan, Uber spokesperson for Africa (Samantha Allenberg) explained that with the help of mobile verification on signups and advanced fraud methodology, they are able to continuously monitor any suspicious activity on the app.

"Note that should a driver-partner continuously cancel rider trips, he/she may be banned for the app while this is being investigated," explained Allenberg.

It remains to be seen how wide spread this issue is and whether or not it is even making a dent on Uber's earnings.

"Both drivers and riders are encouraged to provide feedback after every trip, or use our in-app support to report any issues," concluded Allenberg.

Have you experienced this?

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