Uber sent me a ride request yesterday afternoon. When I arrived at the passenger’s location, a woman walked out of the house carrying a baby in a basket-style baby carrier. It did not look like an approved child safety seat. I didn’t see how it could be strapped into with a seatbelt. I didn’t see her child strapped into the carrier.
When she got closer to the car, I asked her if what she was carrying was an approved child safety seat. She said in heavily accented English that it was. I asked how it connected to a seat belt. She said she would hold it so it would not move. I explained I could not give her a ride and I would need to cancel the trip.
At this point, she told me she did not understand English very well. Since printing cards that explained the Maryland law requiring the proper child safety seats for children under six years old, I have had two trips I have had to cancel. Both were with passengers who did not have a firm grasp of English making the cards useless.
She told me she did have something and would go inside and get it. I agreed to wait. She lived on a one-way street. There was no available parking. Parked cars lined both sides of the street. I was completely blocking the road. Luckily there was no one coming, but as a driver, I hate blocking the road.
She came back out of her house with an extra piece that snapped into the carrier. It was flat on the bottom. I did not see where a seat belt connected into it. It looked to me to be a base for the carrier so that it would not rock back and forth, something people like to do with their babies.
I told her that did not look like an approved child safety seat and I would not be able to drive her. She told me she takes Uber all the time. I am sure she does. I decided to cancel immediately and not wait for five minutes to expire. The other day when I called Uber support, that person on the phone told me when canceling because the rider did not have the proper car seat for a child, you do not have to wait five minutes. He told me Uber will now pay the cancelation fee even if you have not waited five minutes. So that is what I did.
That turned out to be a mistake. I should have waited the full five minutes.
After I left, I did not see that I was paid the $5.25 cancelation fee. I called Uber support while I was driving to an area to park and wait for a new ride request. I explained the situation and he put me on a short hold. He came back and told me it would take 48 hours to award me the $5.25.
If I waited another minute before canceling, Uber would have paid me the cancelation fee within a minute or two. I did not want to continue blocking the road. Because of that, I have to wait two days to get my measly cancelation fee.
I have a theory. When you cancel after five minutes, no matter the reason, Uber’s AI awards you the cancelation fee. If you cancel for whatever reason under five minutes, Uber’s AI awards you nothing. I have to wait two days because the Uber support person manually awarded me $5.25 while I was on hold. Furthermore, if I had not called, I would not be paid the $5.25.
Like all theories, I would need to test it. I would need to cancel another passenger without a car seat less than five minutes and then not call Uber support. Then after two days and not getting the $5.25, I would have a good idea of what is going on.
I doubt I will ever do that. I will just wait five minutes.