I really like ride-hailing services like Uber for the convenience and relative safety they offer while traveling. Especially in countries where taxi use can be dangerous, or where they run without meters and scam the tourists. And Uber is one of the few that have a presence in other countries. There are also local apps I use, but sometimes those aren’t in English.
Recently I noticed that my Amex Platinum card had expired on my Uber account. This card comes with a $15 per month Uber credit. Not wanting to waste this benefit I tried to update my card. But I kept getting errors in the account telling me that my payment method was declined by my financial institution. I knew this was not true: I could see the temporary authorization going through on my credit card. And Amex confirmed it wasn’t a problem on their end. So I contacted Uber support through the app.
That was a mistake. A big mistake.
18 messages later, and I got this: “Your account has been suspended for activity that violates our Terms and Conditions and will be unavailable for you to use until further notice. We will let you know if we will consider lifting the suspension.”
So what did I do to violate the T&C? Your guess is as good as mine.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because first I should walk through the previous 17 messages from Uber. Each message was from a different person, and only two of them were remotely relevant. The rest were form messages that are related to payment methods:
- “It looks like the payment method is really not compatible with our billing processes.” Here are some other ways you can pay.
- “I’m happy to help you add your payment method. Please see the instructions below.”
- “It looks like we weren’t able to verify the card with your financial institution.”
- “You do not have an Amex enrolled in Amex Premium Benefits.” (Of course I don’t, because I can’t add the card!)
I got variations on these messages multiple times, in no particular order. My response was always: please look at my original question and the evidence I provided of the issue on the Uber side. I admit I got less and less friendly as this went on with responses unrelated to my issue. Especially because I did get two messages agreeing it was an Uber problem:
“Our team is aware of the issue causing this difficulty and is working to resolve it as quickly as possible.”
“I’ve reviewed your account and it appears our system may have incorrectly restricted your payment method. “
Those were interspersed with the form letter responses and never followed up on.
I resisted swearing or using unkind words in my emails, but did start to use all caps for parts of my messages, to emphasize that I didn’t want to get the same form letters again. And I repeatedly asked them to escalate my problem to someone who could really help.
As an aside, for the last 7 or 8 of these messages I also got a request to rate the support. But these separate emails had no link or other content, so there was no way to actually providing a rating. No surprise, this lined up nicely with the rest of the customer support I received.
The last thing I heard before the suspension was from Uber’s Escalation Team. It was yet another useless note: “it appears the card you’re trying to use has been deleted from your account.” But I was somewhat excited that I had reached an “Escalation Team.” The next message informed me of my account suspension. (Again from a new person).
Based on the names used in the emails, I gather that Uber outsources their support to India. I think folks in India are perfectly capable of providing very good support. But I suspect that Uber pays this team very little and provides little training. And they have no incentive to do more than respond randomly with form messages. In fact, I bet they get measured by speed of response and speed closing requests. So when I wouldn’t stop with the follow up emails they couldn’t close my request. Suspending me closes the entire case out nicely.
What’s next? Well actually my account is still working. Perhaps the account suspension message was just one more in a long series of irrelevant responses somewhat related to the original topic of my request. Hard to say, but I know I won’t be contacting Uber support ever again.
Not even when they charged me a $5 fee for parking a Jump bike out of the service area today. I parked it in a bike rack, next to 5 Jump bikes put there by the Jump service team, well within the service area.