ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A state worker said he is out $150 after a seven-minute Lyft ride from the State Capitol to the Albany-Rensselaer Train Station on February15. Jeorge Cymon said he was charged the maximum damage fee for leaving vomit in the backseat, something he strongly denies.

Lyft drivers can charge a damage fee to riders who leave behind mud, dirt, animal fur, drink spillage, or food. Pictures sent to Cymon from Lyft show what appears to be vomit on the back of the driver’s side of his Lyft driver’s car. According to the Lyft website, riders who vomit in vehicles can be charged the maximum damage fee of $150.

A text message between Cymon and Lyft shows that he tried explaining to the company the charge was made in error. However, the company denied his appeal.

“As soon as I was dropped off, I got a message, and photos, from Lyft that I have to pay a $150 cleanup fee,” Cymon said. “I tried to fight Lyft, but they insisted that these photos are all the proof they need to charge $150.”

Cymon isn’t the only person to complain about being charged for damage that did not happen. There are multiple reports on the Better Business Bureau website from Lyft customers who said they were wrongly charged damage fees.

A customer complained on January 31 that his group was charged $150 for damage that was supposedly done to a headrest. On January 19, a customer said they were charged $80 for leaving gum on the seat of their Lyft driver’s car, and another complained they were also charged $80 for getting a seat wet on January 12.

“It is plain fraud, and also irrational that a state government employee who takes a seven-minute rideshare trip during expected work hours would vomit in the car and then jump on the train like nothing happened,” said Cymon.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. News agencies have reported people wrongly charged damage fees for both Lyft and Uber. The scam is dubbed “vomit fraud.” On its website, Lyft said customers can dispute a charge by:

  1. Tapping “ride history” from the Lyft app menu
  2. Tapping the ride they need help with
  3. Tapping “get help” at the bottom of the screen

NEWS10 reached out to Lyft providing information about Cymon’s experience and to find out what customers should do if they are wrongly charged a damage fee. According to the company they use statements from the driver and rider, photographs, as well as prior feedback when handling damage disputes.

“We take damage disputes very seriously. Lyft’s Customer Cares team investigates each incident individually and makes a determination based on the evidence available,” a Lyft spokesperson said.

Cymon knows he’ll probably have to live with the $150 charge but hopes his story serves as a warning to other rideshare users. “I know this won’t necessarily solve the problem, but it is predatory behavior towards the consumer.”