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Mar 27

I was visiting Hyderabad after a few years last week and on the way back to the airport, I decided to hire an Uber since it was cheaper than Meru and others.

After the ride, the price seemed a bit steeper than what I expected, Upon looking deeper into the fare, I saw this 90 rupee toll charge which didn’t make any sense to me. I have lived in Hyderabad for around 4 years and also know the areas pretty well, there is only 1 toll on the route and nothing else. The driver only paid a toll of 30 rupees but I was still charged 90 rupees as the toll by the Uber app.

Now it isn’t really about odd 60 rupees on this 1 trip, but imagine that Uber is making thousands of trips everyday to the airport and possibly cheating riders of lakhs of rupees everyday. For me its also about principle, I don’t want to give Uber or the driver more money than what is due to them. You can find a screenshot with the excess toll highlighted in the screenshot below. My trip was from Radisson in Hitech to the Airport.


I immediately wrote off an email to Uber asking for a breakup of the toll charged to me and an explanation of the charges. I got canned/copy-paste responses explaining to me what tolls were and the fact that Uber collects them but nothing that would actually tell me what the 90 rupees were for. After 4 tries, I decided to invoke the Uber Twitter team to help out in the matter. Usually social media has better teams assisting on issues. Upon escalation on Twitter, I finally got someone who is half competent to respond to my query and the response was funny, apparently Uber thinks I exited and re-entered the 1 straight road from Gachibowli to the Airport 4 times.


Now it doesn’t take a genius to see that multiple roads are repeated above, basically 4 permutations of reaching from Gachibowli to the Airport. I responded on twitter on how this is obviously incorrect and am waiting to hear back. The toll combination doesn’t even pass the sniff test for coherence.

Additionally, armed with this extra information, I wrote off to the Uber support in the app telling them how obviously the toll charged is incorrect. Here is when things get surreal and funny. The Uber support folks thought I was the driver and not the rider. They actually told me to keep the extra toll money and forget about overcharging the customer. Wow ! So they just realized they cheated a customer and they are telling their driver to keep mum instead of refunding the extra money to the rider. You cannot make this shit up.


We are therefore not making any adjustments so that you can keep the higher fare you received.

I had heard Uber had questionable ethics as a company, but this is beyond ridiculous, instead of admitting a mistake in their platform and refunding the excess money charged to a customer, not only are they making me run around and spend more money and effort on this than its worth. But they are also asking the driver to keep the extra dough and not worry about it being illegitimate gains. Had they refunded me and told the driver to keep the money, it would have been different, but they actually just cheated me in the process.

Lets ensure it reaches to the people who matter in the company so that the software issues are fixed and money is refunded to everyone who has been overcharged by Uber due to this toll calculation issue.

Update 1 – 27 March 2017

Till date I have received 8 useless responses from 1st level customer service giving me uninteresting facts about Uber’s service. Their 1st level customer service is seriously messed up.

Update 2 – 27 March 2017

Uber employees are now just closing tickets without responding (actually responding with a ‘M’) and pleas to escalate to supervisors have been ignored.


Update 3 – 29 March 2017

So this really blew up, the site is slammed since yesterday with a ton of traffic coming from Ycombinator and Twitter and Facebook and Reddit. Thanks to everyone who shared this post. One of my friend’s who works in Uber also internally escalated this and we got partial resolution. The toll charges were in fact refunded to me but Uber continues to deny that they did anything wrong. They now claim that some hidden charges are there which every driver is paying. I have asked for a clarification on what that means since clearly there was no other money paid by the driver in the journey. I am yet to hear back on that, also no word on why the driver was asked to keep the money when support thought he was telling them they overcharged the customer or why support itself admitted due to technical issues extra toll was collected.

In conclusion, the image of Uber I had has been shattered even further, the site’s support team seems like a bunch of high school kids who don’t know what they are doing, there is no internal or external escalation mechanism in the company and the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. I have zero faith that the actual issue due to which the toll was incorrect would be resolved.

If I receive a response to obvious inconsistencies in Uber’s chain of events, I will update the post again. Thanks for all the support folks.

Jan 22

This review hits a bit close to home. The website is actually by someone from my alma mater, however its a pathetically run website with poor customer service. Hence I have no option but to write this post detailing my experience with the fraudulent site. They do have an apt tagline though, ‘When words are not enough’

So here is how the story goes, I have used the site a few times in the past with fairly satisfactory results. I used them again to send flowers to my parents on their anniversary like every year. This time my parents were disappointed, the flowers sent were wrinkled and seemed old. Some of them had even started to blacken.

My mom told this to the delivery person and also mentioned it while receiving the flowers. When she told me about it, I told her I will fix it. From my understanding the business model of most of these sites is based on a vendor model. They use a local vendor for the last mile deliveries and it would have been possible that someone messed up. I was in for a rude shock.



When I wrote an email/complaint to their customer service, I got a silly reply ‘Overall flowers bouquet is looking completely fresh,so we request you to put the flowers in water’. Imagine that, telling a customer to put wrinkly old flowers in water.  I was incensed at this point, not wanting to deal with their bullshit, I ordered from another vendor and told them I will be filing a merchant chargeback on my credit card account.

This apparently woke them up and they started telling me that even though ‘only 1 flower is black’, they will replace the bouquet as ‘I’ have a problem. The photos clearly show 3 flowers which are rotting and black. This is customer service 101, never be condescending to your customer. I asked them if one of the flowers is black in the photo on their website. They kept telling me how its a natural thing for a fresh flower to be black due to cold and a number of other excuses. I had already ordered via another site and asked them to cancel the order which they refused. This other site was miraculously able to create a bouquet of fresh roses in the cold without any flower being black.

While this was happening, my mom got a few calls from the vendor I think, who told my mom that since the flowers were prepared the night before, this could have happened. My mom told him she had already got replacements from another company. He basically hung up telling her that if he isn’t getting paid, he wont send a replacement.

However this was not the end of the matter, While I was sleeping someone at FlowerAura was plotting on how to try and fail my merchant chargeback, they basically wrote an email to me that my parents are not accepting their calls and hence my order will be considered complete. This is so hilarious and a big lie :

“Dear Customer, We tried contacting the receiver several times but couldn’t reach them. As a result, your order number #939904 is pending. We request you to provide an alternate number of the receiver on urgent basis so we could make the delivery today. If the number is not provided on your end, we will consider the order complete as it was attempted from our side. Warm Regards Team FlowerAura”

Anyway, I am waiting for the charge to post  to my credit card so that I can file a chargeback. They just lost a loyal customer for making a little extra profit. If they would have accepted fault and sent the replacements immediately like a good business, this wouldn’t have happened and they would not have had to make up stories around how my parents are not contactable etc. Still a little bit sad this site comes from students from my alma mater.

Nov 08

I love saving money, sometimes it means I would use sites like Hotwire or Priceline to save money especially with mystery hotel rates. For my recent trip to San Diego I decided to use Hotwire to get a good hotel in the downtown or the Mission Bay area. While searching for a good rate, I got a nice 4 star hotel in Downtown for $79 a night. The kind of hotels one could get were shown as Westin and its likes, I was thrilled to be able to get such a deal and booked it instantly alongwith a $16 discount the site was advertising at that time. I discovered it was a new Mariott in the San Diego downtown area called the Renaissance. Now for the big surprise, the hotel has a parking charge of $45 a night. Wow ! What a way to sell hotel rooms, sell them cheap on these sites and then have hidden fees such as these. The parking charge per night is more than 50% of the room cost washing down all your savings.

I immediately got in touch with Hotwire asking to cancel my order, unfortunately I got connected to the rudest agent I have ever talked to in my life. And I have talked to a lot of agents running this consumer blog. She actually started lecturing me on Hotwire rules and cut me off multiple times. She even told me, ‘Sorry sir, but I have to cut you off’. How can an organization accept such poor behavior from its agents. In order to not cloud your judgement and here are some facts about my call with this Hotwire agent which also summarizes what happened :

1. Agent cut me off rudely many times.

2. Agent did not want to listen to me.

3. Agent ‘lectured’ me on Hotwire ‘rules’

4. Agent kept on calling me by a wrong name

5. Agent was incompetent, unable to lookup a choice I was seeing on your website.

6. Agent lied that she cannot use the reference number to find which hotel I am talking about. Later when I didnt relent she looked it up.

7. Agent just refused to honor the $16 discount which had initially brought me to this site

Anyway, long store short, I did get a new hotel after going through my ordeal with this agent and asking to speak with a supervisor. I ended up complaining about her behavior towards me via multiple methods and finally got a response after I complained via social media. However the investigation agent came back with that the agent was ‘professional’ and something that sounded like everytime the agent did something wrong she apologised. Wow ! I did get $20 refunded for the issue, however its in the form of hotdollars which is only usable on Hotwire and has an expiry of one year. Dang it, it means I probably have to deal with this company again.

Just putting this out there incase you are about to book via Hotwire, the savings are not worth it. Will sent Hotwire a link to this also.

Sep 02

There was a time when American Express was considered to be the most consumer friendly card company. Usually comprising of a wealthy clientele, It was supposed to solve all consumer issues in a breeze and in a fair manner to the consumer.

Thankfully till now I never really had a dispute with a merchant that would need this mediation, however this July was the first time I did. I went to Sam’s club and bought a $100 membership from them. I split that membership charge onto 2 credit cards, 2 American Express credit cards to be more precise, $45 and $55.

When the charges settled, I saw that both my cards had been charged $100, obviously some computer system somewhere had a bug. I thought this is something which Amex would easily resolve. After all both the cards I used to make the purchases carry an annual fee and I consider Amex to be the best in customer service. But, boy oh boy, I was going to be proven wrong. Initially, American Express did not believe me and asked me to submit proof of the overcharging. This is even before they contact the merchant. I submitted the proof along with a description of what had exactly conspired. I have pasted the letter and the receipt below redacting crucial information.

After submitting the proof, there was radio silence for a month and a half. After that time period expired, American Express sends me a message that merchant has shared the disputed transactions receipt and the dispute is closed in the favor of the merchant. I wondered how it could be since I had clearly split the transaction.

Lo and behold ! the receipt also shows I had split the transaction onto 2 cards and the 2 $100 charges were incorrect. Some brainless idiot who is incompetent to even read receipts decided the dispute in the favor of the merchant at American Express. Here are the details :




PO BOX 981532

EL PASO, TX 79998-1532

Subject: Dispute of transaction at Sam’s club


I had split the total amount of ($100) on 2 of my cards both Amex cards, one card ending in 63006 was supposed to be charged $45 and the other card ending in 21004 was supposed to be charged $55. However for some inexplicable reason both cards are charged $100.

As you can see in the receipt, I had very clearly split the transaction onto 2 cards.




Amex Response :

We would like to advise you of the status of your claim on your account from Sams Club Memberships. We removed the amount under review of $55.00 from your account during our investigation.

During our investigation, we contacted the merchant on your behalf and asked them to either provide an explanation or issue a credit for you.

In response to our inquiry, the merchant has provided us with the copy of signed charge receipt indicating your account has been charged correctly. We have attached the supporting documentation for your reference.

If you still question the charge, we request you to provide us with the documentation showing merchant overcharged. In absence of this documentation, we will not be able to represent your claim and investigate further.

Therefore, the amount under review has been reapplied to your account and will appear on your upcoming statement.

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you.


American Express Customer Care

The receipt is the exact same as above. Some paper pusher at Amex decided he doesn’t have to actually read a dispute or its documentation.

Now I know there is no way I can lose this dispute, but my faith in American Express as a company is shattered. I spent some time talking to an employee, re-filed the dispute and 10 mins later it was closed again in the merchant’s favor. I restarted another chat, this time with a ‘Harris’, some rude idiot who lost his cool after I told him I am not going on a 3 way call for something as crystal clear as this. This ‘Harris’ which I am sure is a fake name and some Indian call center is handling this then started to apologize. I am also Indian, but its so hard to talk to someone in a call center who doesn’t understand customer and company dynamics. Anyway, need to clear the air with his supervisor now. Posting this for posterity about how bad American Express customer care is.

Aug 30

Loyal readers would remember me ranting about the shoddy treatment meted to me by Gamestop and how they arbitrarily disabled a Giftcard I had purchased from cardpool. Guess what ? One letter from my state Attorney General’s office and they quickly backtracked :




So the lesson here is to never take things like these lying down. There are enough agencies here to protect consumer rights, use them !

May 20



I am boiling with rage right now, the reason being the scum of the earth company called GameStop. Their dwindling stock price should be a good indicator of the inherent value they provide to customers. However my story is more retail than fundamentals.

Here is the gist of it. I needed to purchase some stuff of GameStop, as I normally do I got a discounted gift card (around $300) for GameStop from Cardpool and went on my merry way to make a purchase at the local store. I have done this many times before however this time it was going to be a bit different. As I went to the checkout counter the young lady there told me she had to ‘call it in’. Wait, was I at a GameStop or at a traffic stop, law enforcement usually uses terms like ‘call it in’. Being Indian, I am used to some level of discrimination, so I pretended to not mind and waited as the agent talked to someone on the line and boy she was in no hurry to resolve the matter. After a few jokes she hung up and looked at me. What she said next totally shocked me, she told me she couldn’t accept the gift card as it had been issued to someone else.

That makes absolutely no sense. Gift cards are by nature transferable and are like cash. The gift card I had also said nothing about any such terms. She told me there is nothing she could do and they have further frozen the gift card (WTF!). She further asked me to contact customer service.

I went home and I contacted customer service, waited a couple of days and got no response. Shitty service indicator number 1. I then filed a BBB complaint against this company and finally got a response, Here are their replies in their full glory :

Gamestop Response 1 :

On behalf of GameStop, we apologize for this poor experience in association with our company. 
After further research into this issue I have verified that the information you have provided does not match the information with the trade transaction.  We will only be able to speak with the owner of the account used on the trade transaction.
If you have additional questions, I am here for you.

Shilo | Guest Care Support Associate | GameStop | Service Matters

Service matters is their slogan, how ironical. How about unethically and illegally making money from unsuspecting customers.

My Response  :


Gift cards are transferable entities, if someone trades with GameStop and gets a gift card it does not mean that he has forever wagered his/her soul to Gamestop and must use it. He/She is able to sell the gift card and I purchased one such gift card. Its not a credit card or a debit card.

Then things got a little too personal, GameStop apparently wanted me to establish a chain of ownership to the person who 1st had the card. A good analogy is every time you use a $20 bill, you must establish a chain of ownership to the 1st person who was issued the bill. That’s obviously ridiculous. Gift cards are like cash, almost every gift card says its like cash. Anyway, this is how they responded :

GameStop Response 2 :


On behalf of GameStop, we apologize for this poor experience in association with our company. 
As you have stated this gift card was not purchased or obtained from GameStop.  You will need to contact Card Pool about this issue.

If card pool can provide proof of them purchasing the card from the previous customer and then sold the item to you we will be able to resolve the issue by providing a new card to you.

If you have additional questions, I am here for you.

Now to those who say this is reasonable, think of it this way, what if the gift card has changed multiple owners. Also, why would card pool ever reveal who they bought the card from, it would be a breach of privacy for the original seller.

Dear Shilo from GameStop ends with : “If you have additional questions, I am here for you. “

I did have a few more questions and points :

My Response  2 :

Do all gift cards sold by GameStop need to have change of ownership reported to GameStop ? Now you are just making up rules. The reality is that your associate who felt she was being super diligent committed an error in judgment possibly due to my race ? Your overzealous associate on the phone went ahead and disabled the card at his/her end just because he didn’t want a large transaction to go through. The store clerk actually said she had to ‘call it in’ a terminology which law enforcement uses kind of getting to my point of overzealous-ness again.

Even though I had possession of the gift card and had purchased it legally, GameStop went ahead and disabled it without having any legal basis to do so. Gift cards are like cash and unless reported lost or stolen this suo-moto action of GameStop is most definitely illegal. Its a legal debt to the person with the possession of the gift card.

Like I said, I am under no compulsion to ask cardpool or to give my information to you, you have the burden of proof to show the gift card was stolen or obtained by illegal means. By not allowing me to use a legal debt like a gift card GameStop is the company which needs to provide clarifications and not me.

I will be sure to report this matter to my state’s AG office as its obviously illegal and also use the social media to spread the message.

And they never replied back.

True to my word I filed complaints with the FTC as they regulate gift cards and also complained to the Washington state attorney general. I would have sued them in small claims but looks like Cardpool will be refunding my money. If someone else had a similar experience, let me know, maybe we can get a class action lawyer to take this up if we have enough victims. Making consumers prove the ownership trail for store Gift cards is moronic to say the least.


I am going to wait for their response to the WA State Attorney General, hopefully their legal department would be smart enough to see their snafu. Imagine how much money Gamestop will start amassing by introducing this arbitrary rule and then just freezing gift cards. I am safe thanks to card pool, but you may purchase a GC from a friend or a colleague and then GameStop will just freeze it and steal the money.