On April 18, a federal judge in Florida struck down the national mask mandate on public transportation. Hours after the ruling, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it would no longer enforce the mandate, leading several major airlines and most airports to swiftly repeal their mask-wearing requirements. The Justice Department has filed an appeal to reverse the judge’s decision on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which continues to recommend mask-wearing on public transit.
A day after the federal mandate was struck down, ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft also lifted their mask requirements for both drivers and riders, making mask-wearing optional during rides. Now, some people on social media (here, here, here and here) are wondering if they will get charged a fee for canceling a ride if a driver doesn't want to wear a mask.
Can Uber and Lyft customers be refunded for canceling a ride if a driver doesn't wear a mask?
Yes, Uber and Lyft customers can be refunded for canceling a ride if a driver doesn't wear a mask, provided they contact the companies’ support teams to explain why they felt unsafe.
WHAT WE FOUND
Uber and Lyft’s updated mask-wearing policies went into effect on April 19, except in certain cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, whose local mask mandates supersede Uber and Lyft’s decisions to drop their requirements.
According to Uber’s updated policy, if a rider asks a driver to wear a mask but the driver refuses, a rider can cancel the trip, but Uber says the rider may be charged a cancellation fee. Passengers will know the amount of the fee before the cancellation is confirmed, the policy said.
However, in a statement, an Uber spokesperson told VERIFY that riders can contact the company’s support team and explain the reason for the cancellation in the app if they do get charged, which should lead to a refund.
“If someone cancels a trip because they don't feel safe, generally, they will be refunded,” the Uber spokesperson said.
Uber drivers can also ask riders to wear a mask, according to Uber’s updated policy. If a rider does not want to wear a mask and a driver does not feel safe taking the ride, the driver can also cancel the ride and select “not safe to pick up” as the cancellation reason.
“We have always encouraged riders and drivers to cancel trips if they don't feel safe, and canceling a trip for safety reasons does not count against a driver’s cancellation rate,” the Uber spokesperson said. A driver’s cancellation rate is based on the number of trips a driver canceled out of the total number of trips they accepted.
If you believe you were incorrectly charged a cancellation fee, you can request a refund on Uber’s website.
According to Lyft’s updated policy, riders and drivers also have the option to cancel any ride they don’t wish to take, but the company says health and safety reasons, such as not wearing a mask, will no longer appear as a cancellation option in Lyft’s app. Although that option will not be available, a Lyft spokesperson told VERIFY that “riders and drivers have our support to decline any ride that makes them feel unsafe.”
“Lyft’s Safety team is available 24/7 to provide prompt support – which can include refunds of cancellation fees – with any concerns, and we will continue to take action in response to violations of our Community Guidelines,” the Lyft spokesperson said in a statement.
To cancel a ride in the Lyft app, tap “edit ride” in the bottom left corner of the ride screen and then tap “cancel ride.” According to Lyft’s cancellation policy, riders can cancel a ride within the first five minutes after pickup to avoid being charged a fee, and they can dispute a cancellation charge directly in the Lyft app by tapping “get help.”