Uber Did Its Best To Warn You About Near Year's Eve Surge Pricing, But Everyone Complained Anyway
As expected by anyone keeping tabs on on-demand cab service Uber, there were a ton of complaints on New Year's Eve from customers caught by surprise by some hefty fares. In fact, if you look at Uber's Twitter feed right now, it's dominated by a series of apologies for the "sticker shock" it caused last night.
Meanwhile, several angry customers have been tweeting screenshots of their sky-high Uber fares. Some are as much as $350 for just a few miles, which was almost enough to get you a booze-filled evening at the Applebee's in Times Square.
Here are a few choice complaints. Warning - there's some salty language:
@Uber You are despicable. $116 for a 7 mile ride? Next year we'll just drive drunk, I guess. Thanks, Uber!- Colin Griffith (@colingriffith) January 1, 2014
And here's a look at Uber's apology-filled Twitter feed:
The reason why Uber cabs were so expensive last night is because the company uses a tactic called "surge pricing" that increases the cost of taking a cab. Uber surge pricing helps ensure cabs are always available. It's the same tactic airlines and hotels use when they raise prices during peak travel times.
The alternative to surge pricing, of course, is to keep all cabs at the same standard fare. But if Uber does that, then there might not be any cabs available for you to take at all. The company uses an algorithm that gauges demand versus available cars on the road to come up with how much the surge pricing should be at any given moment. The surge pricing also encourages Uber drivers to get on the road since they can make more money when surge pricing is in effect. Uber's theory is that it's better in the long run to be a reliable service with cabs that are always available, even if that means its customers have to pay more.
To its credit, Uber has done a pretty good job at making sure its customers know when they're about to be hit by a surge price. The Uber smartphone app won't let you call a cab unless you agree to the surge pricing first. It tells you exactly what multiple of the normal fare you will pay, plus what the minimum fare is. If the multiple is very high, the app will also require you to type it in to confirm you understand that you know you're about to pay more than usual. (For example, last night I took an Uber and had to type in "2.75x" before I could hail my cab.)
Uber also released a video and blog post this week explaining its surge pricing policy and that customers should expect higher fares on New Year's Eve.
But despite all those efforts, it seems there was still plenty for Uber customers to complain about.
- Girish Mathrubootham, the son of a retired bank officer who built a $13 billion company in just 10 years
- A couple who traveled to 48 states in an RV share 17 things they would never go on a trip without
- The Taliban is bringing back executions and cutting off hands as punishment after retaking control of Afghanistan
- Ethereum’s scaling issues strike again as TIME Magazine’s NFTs sell for 30 times their price
- Best baby swing cradle and chair in India
- China's FUD drags down Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies yet again
- The India Chapter of the International Advertising Association elects Megha Tata as its President for a second term
- The beer ‘cartel’ of Kingfisher, Budweiser and Carlsberg have to cough up ₹870 crore in fines