So there is a new scam involving Uber drivers. It’s not necessarily new but seems to be picking pace.

It involves the Sh150 cancellation fee that the taxi hailing app charges users. Basically, if you cancel your trip 5+ minutes after you requested it, Uber will charge you a Sh150 cancellation fee that goes to compensate the driver.

Also, if the driver cancels the trip 5+ minute after arriving at your pick up location, you will still pay him/her Sh150 for making him drive all the way.

From a business point of view, this move by Uber is meant to protect their drivers from rogue customers. It is true that some customers like misusing people and hence inconveniencing the drivers.

But what if the driver is the one who has gone rogue?

Here in Kenya, we have a culture of being dishonest. People are always actively looking for ways to get money in crooked ways. It is therefore no surprise that some drivers are now using this cancellation fee policy to defraud customers.

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I’ve personally been a victim twice, where the driver tells you to cancel the ride, well after the 5 minutes. Most times the excuse is they are not going to that direction, or there is traffic jam, or its too late in the night etc.

Lucky for me, Uber refunded my cash in one of those instances. If you go to ‘Your Trips’ on the app, you can select the just cancelled trip, then Problem with Cancellation Fee -> My driver asked me to cancel.

That might work sometimes and you’ll have your Sh150 back.

But that’s not the only way Uber drivers are eating what is not theirs. As one Twitter user narrated, some drivers are arriving at the pick up point, then switching off their phones awaiting the end of their 5 minutes wait time. They then cancel and drive away with free Sh150.

From the comments that followed, you could tell this is not an isolated incident.

And it doesn’t matter whether you use card or cash to pay. If you pay with cash, Sh150 will be added on your next trip.

The simplest way would be to call your driver immediately he is confirmed. If they fail to pick, cancel before the 5 minutes.

But sometimes you’re not in a position to make the call, or you simply forget. Which will translate to Uber losing more customers.

Perhaps Uber should realize that some practices that work in the US might encounter challenges in Kenya where 98% of the population is corrupt and wouldn’t mind making and extra 150 bob unfairly.