sometimes, I make a lot of sense.

Here’s Why Uber Debits Nigerian Accounts Up To Twice the Quoted Fare.

02 March 2016 by Oo Nwoye

Yesterday,  my account was debited twice the quoted Uber fare amount of  ₦ 1150. I was excitedly spoiling for a fight then sadly Uber refunded my account the complete trip fare.

This over debiting is not a new phenomenon.

From my interaction with the very polite C Jennie, the internal reason being given (and perhaps understood) for this discrepancy is “International Bank Charges” so I decided to reply and give what I know to be the main issue.

Here’s an excerpt from the Uber support email (I will not include my previous exchanges but I’ll say this “Oo, you could do with reducing the benin boy in you”)

Hi Oo,

Sorry for the confusion here. Happy to explain.

Given Uber’s international structure – our merchant account, Uber BV, is based in the Netherlands, and therefore certain banks will add an international transaction fee when their cardholder makes a purchase from Uber BV. Uber has no control over whether your bank chooses to add such a fee. While this isn’t an optimal experience, you may be able to lower or avoid these fees by using a different credit card.

I have gone ahead applied NGN 2300 credit to your Uber account which will automatically apply to your next ride.

Please know that we have no control over these additional charges and only charge what you see in your Uber receipt.

If you check your trip receipt, you’ll notice we have a disclaimer at the bottom that reads: “Fare does not include fees that may be charged by your bank. Please contact your bank directly for inquiries.” Our intent is to be as transparent as possible and make it easy for you to pay for your Uber requests.

Hope this clarifies things. Let me know if there’s anything else.

Being one never to let a chance for me to explain something pass, here is my response which explains the issue and why the overcharging it is Uber’s fault  responsibility.

Thanks for your response and the refund.

I work in tech and understand what’s happening, so I may be in a better position to explain to you and will cos you were kind enough to sort this out 🙂
It’s not bank fees but an exchange rate issue. 
In Nigeria today, there are 2 exchange rates for the Dollar. The official one is $1 = ₦ 200 the black market is $1 = ₦400
When a Nigerian buys a domain name for $10, his bank deducts ₦4000 because the banks operate with the black market rate (getting dollars at the official rate is hard). The customer does not complain though. Why? because it was $10 that was charged and knows there are 2 prices for $10. ₦2000 if you buy it officially and ₦4000 from the black market
Here is where and WHY Uber is at fault.
When Uber wants to charge you ₦2000, Uber displays ₦2000. That is all the customer sees and knows.  However at Uber’s backend, Uber asks that $10 be charged (because Uber ASSUMES it is the dollar equivalent). So both Uber BV and the Bank see $10. And what does the Nigerian bank do, they charge at the black market rate thereby removing ₦4000 from the customer’s account.
How can Uber (and other Nigeria based merchants using foreign processors) solve this? 
The only way to solve this is to send the processor the charge Nigerian denominated bank cards in  Naira and not in Dollars. For this, Uber will need to open a Merchant account denominated in Naira. I think it is only in Nigeria you can get such. 
Payment processors you could yous are Paystack, Interswitch, Paga (you guys have an arrangement).
This issue affects anyone using a foreign processor  in Nigeria.  Harsh but true is the fact that it is not the customer’s business  what processor you are using. You cannot say something costs x amount and 2x will get deducted. It’s that simple.
As for Uber, the only way to escape this extra deduction is to use cash. Before you place your Uber order, click the Card symbol and change it to cash.  If you are yet to download your Uber, you can do so here and get $15 credit. I’m sure if it’s a naira fare, it would be exchanged at ₦200.
Criminal Banks!
PS: This of course this opens another topic about global payments in a globally connected commercial world.  I’m still a long way from understanding how the block chain (awon Stellar, Bitcoin etc) would impact this.


Have You Read These?

I am a founder of Fonebase Labs, a Nigerian technology company. Our products are Fonenode - a telephony API, Callbase , a virtual contact center and WriteRack the best way to tweetstorm. Feel free to holla at me (ositanwoye@gmail) if need be.

1 comment | Categories: Nigeria, Technology | Tags: , , ,

  • I ranted a while ago when the dollar brohaha started but a lot people see me as anti-foreign company. In practical terms, if a company sees a market as being valuable, they will take extra step to open a local account. Money can be move out at intervals. The benefit of that to the country is that the money will reside in the bank longer than the usual and the bank can do something with it.
    Uber can of cause still retain current structure. I had thought the agreement with Paga is to charge in Nigeria. That would help. Customer remain King ONLY in a market the seller hold valuable.