One of the benefits that comes with my American Express card is a monthly $15 Uber credit. I don’t use it often, but on our recent trip to Florida, the timing worked perfectly for us to make use of it for both our trip to the airport at the very end of September and on the return about 10 days later in early October.
It appears that during our trip Uber made a change to the way this scheme works (although at least some of their support people seem unaware of that).
On our outbound journey, the credit was applied automatically and showed up on the receipt:
The remainder was charged to my Amex card, as the explanation of the benefit from Amex said it should be.
I had already verified with Amex that I need to bill the card directly, and not use it through ApplePay. I also discovered that the benefit only applies to Uber journeys in the US (it was not applicable to the ride I took in London earlier in the year for example).
For the return, we did exactly the same thing and booked an UberXL from the airport to home. The charge was around the same, and no changes were made in the app – I just requested the car and used the same defaults as I always use, expecting the $15 credit for October to be applied automatically as it had been 9 days earlier. Only it wasn’t:
So, I explored the customer support options. On Twitter, @Uber_support was not very helpful. In the app, I did file a query under the “I used the wrong payment method or profile” topic since that was the closest I could find (note: in my case, it was not that I had used the wrong method, but that Uber had failed to apply my credit, but there were no other options that sounded closer).
The first response I received completely ignored what I wrote and just responded stating that the October credit was in my account:
Not a great first impression of their support organization, but I replied explaining that the issue I had was not that the credits were missing, but that they had not been used for the trip I took. The response to that, from a different person in their support team, pointed the finger at me stating that I had turned them off before that trip and that is why they were not applied:
I will be very clear: I did not switch this off. The instructions state you can toggle credit on/off in the “Payment Options” screen and also select the amount using a slider. Problem is, the app I have does not have a Payment Options screen, nor a slider to adjust the amount. Instead it has this:
I pointed out that I had not done this, and that their instructions did not apply to the app I have on my phone, yet another person in their support team responded:
This was the first time they claimed that the credits were not enough to cover the full trip and that was the problem. The rest makes no sense. The desired payment method is meant to be my Amex card according to Amex, and the credits should be applied automatically in that case. That was what I did for both trips.
The next response though was even clearer that they are moving the credits into this new Uber Cash feature, and apparently not applying it automatically:
Notice that line in the first paragraph:
Please note that Amex credit will only be applied if the trip’s fare is not more than your credit
So, in order to make use of the Amex credits now we have to make journeys that cost no more than $15. Seriously Uber? That’s a scam. It is also not consistent with the receipt above from September where they happily applied the $15 credit to a bill for $30.
Back To Disabled
Then, after all this detail about how Uber Cash is replacing credits, they return to the claim that I had turned off the Amex credits in the app. Once again, no I had not turned them off. I had never even seen the screen to turn them off, and why would I do that knowing I wanted to use them?
What it does tell me though is that Uber support have no clue what is going on here. They just keep blasting out canned excuses.
All of this, I copied to Twitter as well, and eventually I received this response from their social media support team:
That sounded like progress, and perhaps if this was escalated beyond the front line support people I would be able to get a more acceptable response. I would also note, that this amount of back and forth over a simple mistake where they failed to apply a credit does not make a lot of sense for a business either. Simply crediting my Amex card and debiting the Uber Cash balance would not have changed anything for them. Instead, they have spent time going around in circles trying to make excuses and blame me for making the mistake. To be honest, if an organization really cared about its customers it wouldn’t have mattered if I had made the mistake – an organization that cared would simply have made the change and moved on.
Today, 5 days later, I got this response, which I assume is the response to the escalation:
Again, they are claiming that the credit did not cover the full amount, so it cannot be used. Clearly, that is untrue as the credit was applied on the September trip, which was also more than the amount of the credit. What it really means is that Uber has decided to change the way this credit works, and the new scheme reduces the value of the benefit. American Express seriously need to re-evaluate their partnership with Uber.
When I went investigating why the instructions they sent out did not match my app, I noticed that while we were away, the Uber app on my phone was updated. That update is dated October 5, 2018. I assume it was the introduction of the Uber Cash feature.
It is somewhat unclear from the responses above whether the reason that the credit was not applied automatically was (a) that the upgrade disabled the automatic application of the credit, and removed the switch from the UI, or (b) that the new Uber Cash feature requires the trip to be less than the credit.
Either way, the mistake is clearly Uber’s, and it is indicative of how they treat their customers that they cannot accept that and make it right.