Uber alleges 13CABS created false documents in social media smear campaign

Taxi booking service 13CABS has been accused of doctoring documents in its latest campaign against US ride sharing service, Uber.

On Friday, 13CABS posted on Facebook what it claimed was an Uber driver’s receipt showing a user had been charged $350 for a ride between the Melbourne CBD and Tullamarine Airport that morning – normally a cab fare of $70.

Mumbrella understands the tale was offered to a number of media outlets last week who all declined to cover the story. Fairfax journalist Patrick Hatch posted the receipt in a since-deleted tweet at 5pm on Friday.

A screenshot of Hatch’s now-deleted tweet

13CABS  posted the receipt on its Facebook page during the day where it received immediate criticism from commenters and was later shared on the Reddit Australia forums.

In a statement to Mumbrella, an Uber spokesperson said: “This receipt was an obvious photoshop, it is missing the booking fee line item, which is standard on normal Uber receipts.

“The base fare of $91.55 can only be accurate if it was a three-plus hour trip to the airport given our time and distance rates on UberX.”

A 13CABS spokesperson rejected Uber’s claims, telling Mumbrella: “The receipt in question was provided by a ride share driver late on Friday. The receipt shows what the driver earned, and demonstrates the price surge was 3.9 times the basic fare.  We have no reason to believe the receipt is anything but authentic.”


13CABS appointed Thinkerbell to manage its creative and strategic marketing services in July. It is not clear if Thinkerbell is responsible for 13CABS’ social media presence or the alleged tampered document. Thinkerbell has been contacted by Mumbrella for comment about the alleged tampered Uber reciept.

In September 13CABS launched its Good Serge campaign,  with Thinkerbell’s first effort for the taxi company criticising Uber’s use of surge pricing.

This is not the first time 13CABS – which is responsible for more than half of all taxis on the road in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane – has had problems in its fight against the US ride sharing giants.

In 2012 the company dropped a campaign highlighting the risks of sexual assault to Uber users after complaints to the Advertising Standards Board and an online petition protesting the campaign attracted over 3,000 signatures.

Other Australian taxi companies have also had problems with their anti-Uber messages. In 2016, the NSW Taxi Council also lost out with the advertising watchdog over a campaign claiming the US-based service was unsafe.

UPDATE 3:09pm:

Since publication, Uber has updated its claims and now alleges the receipt was for a premium UberXL ride taken some weeks before last Friday’s storm.

An Uber spokesperson told Mumberella:  “After further investigation, we now believe this was an old XL receipt from several weeks ago that was repurposed to falsely claim it was a trip that occurred during Friday’s storm.”

This story has been amended to reflect Uber’s updated statement along with noting Patrick Hatch deleting his tweet.


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