How Cancelling Your Uber Ride Affects Drivers

How Cancelling Your Uber Ride Affects Drivers
Photo: Shutterstock

If you’ve ever called an Uber—and waited longer than you’d like—you probably might feel tempted to cancel the ride altogether. In the end, you might end up paying a small fee for your driver’s time, the probable worst-case scenario. But there are several reasons why Uber’s existing policies, in particular, aren’t so great for drivers when you decide to cancel last-minute.

Take, for example, the fact that the app pockets at least a partial amount of every fee when a rider cancels. On a recent Reddit thread, u/old-wave said they received just $US3.75 ($6) of their overall $US5 ($7) fee for every cancelation via Uber. (Meanwhile, apps like Lyft do not pocket any part of a rider’s cancelation fee that is owed to a driver.) That fee may not be significant, but given the recent wave of criticism aimed at Uber for its low pay and general working conditions, it has enormous implications in the long run.


It’s also not entirely clear whether Uber or the driver ends up absorbing the fee if a passenger disputes the cancelation charge and receives a “refund”—typically, just a credit toward a future ride. While using Uber recently and attempting to dispute a charge, I received an alert that indicated that the driver might lose out if I chose to dispute it. (I had chosen to cancel because Uber’s app had failed to show the status of my ride, yet it guilt-tripped me into paying for the fee. When asked specifically about the issue of Uber “glitching” and being at fault for a cancelation, a rep for Uber did not directly answer my question, and instead, directed me back to their website which explained their cancelation fees.)

Worse, Uber has the right to keep some of their drivers’ cancelation fees altogether, if they believe payments were done in “error, [were] fraudulent, or in violation of Driver terms.” According to one former Uber driver who had dealt with this firsthand, however, sometimes cancelation fees are withheld without any apparent reason.

“I have had three instances now where I waited over five minutes before cancelling, took screenshots to prove I waited the full time, cancelled the ride, and then never received the fee …” he said. “This is completely different from the consumer’s side, where if a passenger simply says ‘My driver was under the influence [of] alcohol’ with no evidence, the passenger gets a refund, that driver can lose the pay from that ride, have their account immediately suspended for a minimum of three days, and possibly even [become] permanently deactivated.”

What does this mean for you? Well, if you do cancel a ride, understand what it means to dispute any charge. Unless your driver has picked you up from the wrong location or made any other major transit error, don’t automatically request a refund for the cancelation fee in-app because it’s easy and probably might work.

Is It Cheaper To Use Uber Instead Of Owning A Car?

Owning a car is a lot more expensive than just your monthly payment. There's interest on your car loan, insurance, depreciation, taxes, petrol, maintenance, parking and more.

Read more

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • Lets not forget, Uber and its drivers hurt the Taxi industry and its drivers immeasurably. So I really could not give a monkeys about consequences for Uber drivers. These people are scabs.

    • Fuck that.

      The taxi industry deserves to be hurt by Uber. The drivers regularly do not give two shits about customers, the rules they operate by are weighted towards anti-consumer even when cabbies bother to follow them, the practice of transferrable operating licences that are being used as retirement investments is a fucking farce of regulation turned into racket, and the industry’s behaviour in opposition to reform and disruption is a grotesque example of protectionism for the sake of the wealthy, not the public. They were more offended that they might have to make changes to their finely-tuned money-spinning duopoly/investment scam than actually compete or adapt to changes in technology or customer needs.

      Fuck taxis.

    • The taxi industry and its drivers hurt the Taxi Industry.

      Uber would not exist if the industry did a proper job. People flocked to uber because the quality of service is superb and far superior to a cab.

  • I had a driver who drove past us, marked me as picked up, then raced towards my destination without me in the car! Needless to say I disputed that cancellation and got a full refund!

    • I’ve had that, too. Worse, they were nowhere near me when they marked me as picked-up – they were on the expressway! I cancelled the second I saw that I had been flagged as picked up. I disputed that one immediately and was successful.

      There was another instance last week where I saw that the driver was close ‘as the crow flies’, but was going to have to get on the highway, cross the river, and then come out back through a gauntlet of one-way bullshit, so I cancelled it a few seconds after seeing their position.

      The help text on the app says that cancellation fees are only charged if you cancel after the first five minutes, but I got my cancellation fee almost immediately. Again, I disputed it, noting that I had cancelled within less than a minute, and they awarded a credit almost immediately, but it certainly raised some questions for me about how cancellations are charged.

      Is it automatic? If so, why is it automatic inside the 5min window? Are they banking on customers not bothering to dispute it? Can drivers instigate it? If so, why are they not being warned that it was inside the 5min window and they’re not entitled to it? Why aren’t they just straight-up blocked from instigating it inside the 5min window?

      There’s some fuckery going on there.

  • Seeing as Uber will often misrepresent the availability of drivers (eg will show cars on the map as being 1-4 minutes away), which is deceitful and and deprives you of the opportunity to select an alternative service with better availability, and seeing that drivers can cancel without compensating the rider (I actually had a driver call me recently to ask if I was going to the airport as a ruse to find out where I was going, when he decided he didn’t feel the trip to my actual destination was worth it he cancelled), I’ll continue to cancel and request refunds without any guilt.

    • Yeah thats annoyed me a number of times when I’m waiting at the bus stop, bus not due for 15-20 minutes so decide to check Uber, see theres plenty of cars nearby (within 2-3 minutes from my location) only to find a 10-15 minute wait once I actually request a trip. Cancelling straight away doesn’t incur a fee.
      However theres also those times where the Uber driver is not actually in their vehicle, theyre at home, or a shop etc, accept the trip, you think, oh good, only 5 minutes away, ill wait, but turns out to be 15 minutes by the time they actually get on the move by which time you cannot cancel without a fee, and the far cheaper bus is now the better option.

  • once I had a driver accept my ride then stop at a shopping centre and go to the toilet before he picked me up. so the next time I waited more than 10 minutes while watching the car not move I cancelled it. was still charged $10

  • Driver never pitched to collect my son, He watched as the car came towards him, then took off in the opposite direction. 16 minutes later my son cancelled. The driver hit my son with a cancellation fee of $58 for cancelling within 5 minutes Of ordering the ride. The ride would have cost $15. The receipt produced by Uber showed the cancellation time being 16 minutes, so after a robust conversation, they refunded us, To me, these cancellation fees are fraudulent, and drivers should be liable for prosecution.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!