This page presents my correspondence with Uber support staff in an attempt to correct overbilling relative to Uber's stated referral offer and in an attempt to alert Uber to the need to correct its practices so that discounts match marketing commitments.
I have edited the correspondence to correct typographical errors, remove duplicative quotes, and remove personal information. To avoid revealing the name of the person I referred, I replaced that person's name with "Cousin" throughout. Message timestamps may reflect inconsistent time zones.
This was my first ride with Uber, and I had joined via a referral from a friend (Ben Edelman, [email and referral codes removed]) which was supposed to provide a free first ride. He made a screenshot of the offer as he saw it: "Share your promo code with friends and they'll get their first ride free." The offer included no stated maximum fare, nor any restriction on country of usage. Please credit my account for the cost of this ride.
Thanks for reaching out. Happy to check this for you.
Looks like your country was set to USA on the registration page which is why your first free ride promotion were added in USD as opposed to the local currency. The promo is currency specific and therefore country specific to account for fare differences. You will be able to use the USD credits only on a ride in the USA.
To earn promo credits in your home currency, you can follow these easy steps:
1. Log in to your account here
2. On the field labelled "Location", change to your home country
Let me know if you have any other questions and I'd be happy to help.
I’m Ben, Cousin’s cousin and the person who told her about Uber and referred her to Uber. She’s not an expert about this, so asked me to help get it resolved.
You describe a “currency specific” promo for which Cousin is ineligible. But no such restriction was disclosed at the time when Uber solicited me to invite Cousin. I was told of no such restriction, nor was Cousin. I quote verbatim from the “Free Rides” screen in my app. “Share your invite code iic92. Send friends free rides and you’ll get one too, worth $15! Details. INVITE FRIENDS.” Clicking the Details link yields the following two sentences: “Share your promo code with friends and they’ll get their first ride free. Once they’ve tried Uber, you’ll automatically get a free ride (up to $15) the next time you use Uber. CLOSE.” There’s no further link for further details, no scroll box, nothing like that. I have screenshots which I’d be happy to send you.
So far as I know, the restrictions you mention were not previously conveyed to me or to Cousin in any other way either. If you think they were, please let us know how.
Notice that this promo mentions nothing about a restriction on country of redemption or currency of redemption. Furthermore, the ride that is offered is “their first ride free” – not subject to a maximum, but rather the entire free ride.
Under these circumstances, it strikes me that the required resolution is for Uber to provide Cousin’s entire first ride for free. That’s what the promo promised, and I’m sure Uber wants to live up to its word. Please confirm.
Thanks for writing back. Helena here - stepping in for my colleague.
It looks like your country was set to USA on the registration page which is why your first free ride promotion were added in USD.
As per promotion T&C, each promotion has region specific means these credits are currency specific and therefore country specific to account for fare differences. You will be able to use the USD credits only on a ride in the USA. Since you've taken these ride Singapore, Singapore promo value will apply for this trip not the USD promo value.
The promo value in Singapore is S$10, I have added S$10 credits into your account in any case, which you may use for your rides in Singapore. since this Cousin first ride with uber.
You can also sign in to your account at uber.com to see your applied promos and their terms.
Do let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Thanks for looking at this.
You mention “promotion T&C.” I’m not sure where you’re looking or where we should have seen these. My prior message quoted verbatim everything I saw on screen as I obtained my referral code from the app:
I quote verbatim from the “Free Rides” screen in my app. “Share your invite code iic92. Send friends free rides and you’ll get one too, worth $15! Details. INVITE FRIENDS.” Clicking the Details link yields the following two sentences: “Share your promo code with friends and they’ll get their first ride free. Once they’ve tried Uber, you’ll automatically get a free ride (up to $15) the next time you use Uber. CLOSE.” There’s no further link for further details, no scroll box, nothing like that.
For your convenience, see the two attachments. The first attachment shows what happens when I tap Free Rides to see referral details within the app. The second attachment shows what happens when I then tap Details.
You’ll notice that nothing in these screens says anything about any country restriction. Nor do these screens offer any indication of a cap on the cost of the first ride. Quite the contrary, “they’ll get their first ride free” indicates a first ride of any amount, including the somewhat more expensive ride here.
If there are already additional stated terms or restrictions associate with this offer, perhaps you can point me to them. But the screens are pretty clear and I don’t see anywhere where such terms could be hiding.
My sense remains that Uber should refund Cousin’s entire first ride. If there’s a defect in the offer screens, that defect should surely be fixed for all affected customers, and anyone who has already redeemed an offer should get the exact benefits they were promised – nothing less. I don’t know when Cousin will take her next ride with Uber, but she was expecting a free first ride because that’s what Uber told me to tell her she’d get. $10 off her second ride is rather different from her first ride free, and probably wouldn’t leave her feeling too confident in the Uber experience.
Attachment: screenshots 1, 2
I'm Bongge stepping in for my colleague.
Thanks for writing in, We appreciate you taking the time in bringing this issue to our notice.
After taking a close look at your account, I observed that the active promos in your account are in US$, which is why they did not apply on the trip made in Singapore. However, since its your first ride, I've gone ahead and adjusted the fare equivalent to the promo value $15.
The value of a promotion code (including referral promos) is only valid towards one trip, up to the total amount stated.
• On trips where the total fare is less than the promo amount, it will be covered in full and the balance will not roll over.
• On trips where the total fare exceeds the promo amount, your selected payment method will only be charged the difference.
I’ve included some resources here about the promotions and the referral program. Hope they’re helpful:
- How can I earn free credits or rides?
- View my applied promotions
- Can I extend a promo’s expiration date?
If I can help with anything else, please let me know.
Bongge, Helena, Victor –
I appreciate your assistance. But I feel like we’re talking across each other.
You’re telling me about Uber policies which, thanks to the links in Bongge’s message, I guess I could have known about had I gone to those pages.
But my expectation for the referral – and Cousin’s expectation – were formed entirely by the two screens I quoted in my last two messages, and sent in my message of yesterday. I hope you all had the opportunity to look at the screenshots and read their text carefully. I gather it was always Uber’s intention to limit promotions to certain countries (maybe to referrers and referees who are in the same country) and to limit the initial free ride to a certain amount. Nonetheless, when you look at those screens, I think you’ll have to admit that the country and amount restrictions just aren’t present.
What should be done? I see three appropriate next steps:
1) Cousin should be refunded the entirety of her ride. That’s not a favor or a customer service gesture. That’s exactly what Uber promised, in the promotion screens I sent.
2) Uber should make sure that it is fully honoring the exact literal terms of all the promotions it is presenting to users. If promotion text needs to be changed, in order to match Uber’s intentions, it should be changed straightaway. When an app screen purports to give the entire terms of a promotion, users can’t be expected to look at some other terms – nowhere linked or even mentioned from that screen! – to learn about other restrictions.
3) I don’t think Cousin’s problem is unique. There are probably some other users similarly situated, who saw a promotion but received something less. Will you be able to find these users and make sure they get what they were promised? I think that’s appropriate and really required in order to live up to Uber’s written commitment to these users.
I see that five business days have elapsed. Could I have the courtesy of a reply?
Ulyses here stepping in. So sorry to hear about the trouble with the first free ride promotion.
Under Free Rides tab if you login to your account, you should see on that page this satement Send friends a free ride and you'll get one too, worth S$10. This is the value of the firs free ride promotion in Singapore. Uber application credits your account depending on the country registered on the profile upon signup. In case that you mistakenly set your country to US upon sign up, the system will give the amount equivalent to US' first free ride value. This initially caused the confusion here.
Uber is an international company, so we suggest to make sure that your account is set to the correct country to avoid complication on promotions in the future. We will leave the $15 adjustment made on Cousin's first trip but moving forward, the value of first free ride promotion in Singapore is $10. This amount is the same to all riders signing up in Uber in Singapore previously and today until further notice.
Hope it clears this out and let me know if there's anything else.
Ulysses, Bongge, Helena, Victor –
I appreciate your assistance. But we still seem to be talking past each other.
Ulyses, you reference what a user might see by logging into a Singaporean Uber user's Free Rides tab. I'm a US Uber user, not a Singaporean user, so I can't confirm. But earlier in this thread, I quoted verbatim -- and even sent screenshots showing -- what was presented to me, as a US user, when I went to the Free Rides area in my Uber app. Copying for your convenience, here's what I see:
Send friends free rides and you'll get one too, worth $15!
One might ask whether the "worth $15" applies to the "one" I get (for making the referral), or the "free ride" the friend gets, or both. Uber's offer of a S$15 credit to Cousin suggest Uber thinks the $15 limit applies to both of us. But that is plainly mistaken. Recall that by tapping the Details link in the Free Rides screen, I see a second screen:
Share your promo code with friends and they'll get their first ride free. Once they've tried Uber, you'll automatically get a free ride (up to $15) the next time you use Uber.
Notice that this Details screen plainly indicates that the $15 max is for the person doing the referring. The new user just gets "their first ride free" with no maximum specified in the offer text. Hence my firm view that Cousin is entitled to a free ride, not a $15 discount. For your convenience, I reattach here the two screenshots at issue.
Incidentally, even if you were correct that the $15 max applied to Cousin, which the text indicates it does not, the $15 is US$15. As best I can tell, earlier in this thread she received a credit of S$15. One SGD is worth less than one USD, so this further reduced the credit to her.
Several times in this thread, Uber representatives have claimed that Cousin's country is relevant to this discussion. I disagree. First, in the offer text quoted above and shown in the first two attachments, you'll notice no restriction as to country. By its plain terms, the offer applies to a referral of a user anywhere. If Uber wanted to restrict the referral to users in particular countries, it could have included language like "New user must take first ride in the US" or "New user must have a US billing address." As the quotes and screenshots make clear, the offer shown to me has no such restriction.
Moreover, Ulyses, you claim that Cousin "mistakenly" set her country to US upon signup, but that doesn’t seem to be a good summary of what occurred. I don't remember how Cousin created her account, whether on her smartphone or on the Uber web site. But in the third screenshot, you'll see that the web-based account creation page doesn't even ask the user's country! Seriously -- look at the screenshot, and you'll see that this is not on the list of fields to be filled out. I suspect the mobile app is the same in this regard. No doubt Cousin's account was set to US because she was in the US at the time (visiting me), as indicated by her IP address and GPS. If there was a "mistake," it was Uber's mistake in not asking her home country (if that was even relevant). In fact the country value was nonetheless accurate as to her physical location at the time of signup. But in fact the text of the offer doesn't depend on the new user's country, so I still don't think this matters.
My prior message closed with three suggestions on next steps, including an additional refund to Cousin, a verification that Uber is fully honoring the exact literal terms of its promotions, and research and credit to assist other users who were similarly overcharged. Ulyses, I'm sure this is not the kind of investigation your job ordinarily calls for. Perhaps this thread needs to be escalated to an Uber marketing manager or attorney who will be better positioned to evaluate my reasoning, to identify all Uber users who were overcharged, and to make sure they're all refunded. Please let me know if you'll be able to do that or find someone who can. Otherwise I may be able to help escalate through the contacts available to me.
Attachment: screenshots 1, 2, 3
I'm so sorry for our delay in getting back to you, but I hope that I'll be able to help you now.
I've gone ahead and processed a full refund for Cousin's trip. In the future, please note that the free rides users get for inviting or being invited to sign up with Uber are dependent on each user's country at signup, and according to our terms and conditions, may only be used pursuant to the specific terms that Uber establishes for such Promo Code.
However, I've noted your feedback regarding the wording of the pop-up screens, and I’ll pass this along to the appropriate team.
Please let me know if there's anything else I can help you with.
Thanks for the message. I was surprised to hear from you after six weeks, but I’m glad to learn that you were still thinking about this.
I’m sure Cousin will appreciate the refund. I’ll let her know.
You mention the terms and conditions. Are there in fact provisions, in the terms and conditions, that speak to the discrepancy at issue? I don’t see how the terms and conditions could change the meaning of “their first ride free” into “a $15 discount on their first ride.” I don’t see anything like that in the Terms and Conditions. Nor do I see anything in the terms and conditions about the country restriction we’ve been discussing. Certainly each promo code may only use used according to the terms Uber establishes, just as the Terms and Conditions notes. But when Uber states one set of terms, I can’t imagine the promo code actually being governed by some entirely separate terms that users are not told about. I don’t think the Terms and Conditions says that!
Finally, throughout this thread I’ve mentioned the likelihood that other users are similarly situated. Certainly I’m not the only person to make referrals from the mobile app or even to refer someone who then uses Uber in another country. What do we need to do to make sure that everyone affected in fact receives the refunds to which they are respectively entitled? Is that something you will follow up to achieve? If not, perhaps I need to follow up to my outside contacts in order to achieve this resolution. You said you’d “pass this along to the appropriate team,” but what’s needed is refunds to, I expect, hundreds or thousands of users based on the commitment Uber previously made to them. Changing the on-screen wording is useful going forward and will prevent the problem from growing, but I don’t see how that can fix the problem that already occurred. Surely Uber wants to stand by its written commitments to users as embodied in the unambiguous screenshots I sent.
Thanks for writing back. Happy to help.
As I've mention, we raise this type of issue to our engineering team to avoid it from happening in the future.
I'd also like to assure you that with every concern raised to us, improvements are being done to better your experience. These changes may not happen overnight, but we are working hard to make sure that riders like you get the best experience each and every time.
Please let me know if there's anything else I can help you with.