From talking to other Uber drivers it seems like this happens a lot, but for me it has only happened once so far. I’ve also heard lots of horror stories from Uber drivers explaining how much time and effort had gone into returning an item to a rider. For me it was a very simple process which was, for sure, helped by the fact that the rider who left the phone in my car was a very nice person.
As an Uber driver, the process for returning an item to a rider is very simple. You should know which rider left the item in your car by doing a quick scan of the seats and floors after each trip (this is a very good habit to get into). It may not always be possible or practical, but I’d recommend doing it as often as you can.
Using the driver app, select Earnings and scroll down to Trip History. Here you will see a list of your trips. Select the trip in question and then Help –> My rider left an item in my vehicle. Then simply fill in the required fields.
You will have an option to share your phone number with the rider. I would recommend providing your phone number (although it’s entirely optional and I can understand why some people wouldn’t) as it makes the process much easier. In my case, the rider called me, we had a quick chat, arranged an easy time and place to meet and moved on. The alternative (had I not given Uber permission to pass on my phone number) would likely have been a procession of back and forth emails which would have driven me crazy.
Just remember that the majority of your riders will be good and decent people. You weren’t afraid to have them in your car, so don’t be afraid to meet up with them to return their item. That said, if the rider is being rude or uncooperative, you could try another option like leaving the item somewhere like a local police station for the rider to collect it.
As always, refer to Uber’s guidelines for definitive answers – this article is simply based on my own experience as a driver.