Taylor Brown was out more than $800 after having to buy a new phone Saturday.
The 28-year-old lost his phone in an Uber vehicle on Friday; a mistake he says he takes full responsibility for. But what frustrated him was the response he received from the driver and the ride-sharing company, while he was urgently trying to track down the vehicle.
“I send a message, wait three to five hours. I get a response. I send an immediate response asking them if someone can please contact me just so I can talk to someone and they send me the same automated message back,” said Brown.
Brown said he was making a trip to a store on Yonge Street and realized his phone was missing minutes after he stepped out of the vehicle. He asked a store employee to call the phone several times.
“I call about 20 times,” said Brown. “I know the ringer was on.”
That’s when Brown contacted Uber through his laptop — and left a number to the store since he didn’t have a cell number to give. The app connected the store employee to the driver, who said that he had the phone.
“When the clerk talked to the driver, they asked ‘Hey, do you have my friend’s phone?'” said Brown. “The driver said, according to them, ‘Yes, but I’m with a customer right now,’ and then hung up.”
Brown said he waited more than 20 minutes and when he called the driver back, he had changed his story.
“He said he didn’t see the phone,” said Brown. “And more than that, he said ‘I’ve done a lot of pick-ups today.’ It was literally 40 minutes. How many rides can you do in that quick succession?
“He said the phone wasn’t here and then hung up on me,” said Brown.
Brown checked the phone’s tracking device on a GPS software system on his laptop. It appeared to continue down the road he was on after he had left the Uber vehicle, supporting his theory that the phone was still in the car.
Brown says he’s not only frustrated with the driver but also with Uber, which he felt did nothing to help him.
“I would’ve liked more communication between them and the driver,” said Brown. “I feel like if they got in contact with the driver, he would’ve been less likely to just brush me off.”
After Global News pressed the company for answers, Brown got a call from Uber saying the phone had been found and will be returned shortly. But Brown isn’t buying that the phone was lost at all.
“They found the phone between the cushions but I dont really believe that because the phone was turned off manually yesterday.”
When asked for details about Uber’s side of the story and possibly changing their policy on lost items, Uber spokesperson Carly DeBeikes only responded by saying, “We are glad the phone was located and is being returned to the rider.”
Brown’s story is similar to one Global News reported earlier this week, when a Toronto woman claimed an Uber driver held her keys “hostage.”
Petrina Blander claims the driver wanted $60 to give her keys back, even though she offered to drive to where he’s located to get them.
“He insisted on cash compensation,” said Blander.
“I was insisting I would meet him because I felt bad for his time and the inconvenience I was causing him. He was being very ambiguous. He didn’t want to meet me, calling me names and saying I was impatient.”
Uber has charges a flat fee of $15 to any rider who wants a lost item returned, with the entire cost going towards compensating the driver for his or her time. But Blander says this driver didn’t want to go through the app.
“He said he doesn’t trust Uber and doesn’t know what kind of cut they take,” she said.
Blander also got her house keys returned to her after Global News contacted Uber. But now, the Toronto resident is wondering why it took the ridesharing company more than an entire day to help respond to such an urgent request.
“It took 24 hours for this to happen, which is insane. I honestly don’t think Uber cares about their culture or the safety of their customers,” said Blander.
Uber also responded to Global News on Blander’s story, saying, “We apologize for this rider’s poor experience. High quality customer service is something we strive for and we’re disappointed this standard wasn’t met here. We worked to resolve it and will take the appropriate action.”
Uber said it strictly works with in-app support for most cases, eliminating access to in-person assistance for many riders. Uber wouldn’t answer inquiries on whether it was considering changing its policy to allow riders quicker access to an Uber representative over the phone when they have lost an item.