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It’s a crazy world, no matter where you live. And one of the crazier turns is the story of a nice couple in the midst of celebrating their fifth year of matrimony. Now, however, they’re facing a $30,000 bill for travel in Costa Rica. But we’re not talking about a private train diner or luxury yacht excursion. The bill is for an Uber ride. 

Dominique Adams was in Costa Rica and took a ride to the airport to meet up with her husband in Guatemala. “I took an Uber, everything was fine, I didn’t think twice about it,” Adams told KTLA. While waiting for her flight to land, her husband Douglas Ordonez noticed a $30,000 charge to their bank account. 

How did an Uber ride become a $30,000 charge?

Uber by app
Uber taxi services | Nathan Stirk via Getty

It was a legit charge, but not like you think. The charge was for ₡30,000 Costa Rican Colones money. That’s about $56, not $30,000. But it was processed as the big 30 because, well, who knows?

The bank, naturally, put a hold on their account. So they had no money in Guatemala. Needless to say, this is not a great situation to be in while visiting a foreign country. “We were both distraught, stuck in limbo, feeling like there’s nothing we could do,” Adams said.

“The bank was blaming Uber, and Uber was blaming the bank,” she says. Four days later, the charge was finally reversed. In the interim, they had to stretch the little amount of cash they had over that time. 

What does Uber say?

Uber pickup zone identification
Uber pickup zone identification | Scott Olson via Getty

“We were constantly calling the bank asking for an update, and that’s when we were blamed for the mistake because we called our bank to give them a travel notice, the bank said ‘That’s what allowed the charge to go through,’” Adams said.

“At Uber, we take every report seriously,” Uber told KTLA. “As soon as we received the user’s report, our support team promptly addressed the issue and released the authorization hold mistakenly applied due to a bank error in Dollars and not in Colones. However, the time it takes for the refund depends on each bank’s policies.”

What should travelers do to avoid this happening?

Uber decal in car windshield
Uber decal in windshield | Lindsey Nicholson via Getty Images

The blame game naturally ramps up in consumer cases like this. So what should you do when paying for things in foreign countries? Most suggest not using a debit card, instead opting for a credit card. 

Using a debit card helps card users from overspending. But credit cards prevent your account from becoming accessible by fraudsters. Even better is getting a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee attached. And exchanging cash for money from the country you’re traveling to is another way to get around these types of mistakes. Just make sure you protect that cash from thieves and pickpockets. 


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