“Dynamic pricing” is how Uber describes its infamous surge pricing– a predatory trick anyone else would call “price gouging.” Critics ranging as far apart as industry competitors like Gett, feminist activist Gloria Steinem and even their own drivers have called out the shady practice. What’s even more sneaky about it is that research from Northeastern University has shown that surge pricing doesn’t increase the number of Uber drivers on the road, the way Uber always claimed it does. It just makes rides more expensive. So this holiday season, be armed with knowledge and don’t get swamped by Uber’s surge pricing like these poor folks!
Lenny was charged $490 for an 18-mile ride after a college football game in Indianapolis.
Gabby ended up needing to crowdfund to pay her rent after she was charged a 9x surge on her birthday, resulting in a charge of $360 for a 20 minute ride.
Caroline, who had to fight for several days to get Uber to reimburse a charge of $534 ($384 USD) from Uber Canada.
Russel, in the UK, was charged £109 ($162 USD) for what should have been a five milejourney.
Uber’s also a big fan of surging when public transportation options like buses or trains have mechanical difficulties or big delays. In Washington, D.C. this spring a 3 mile ride ended up costing over $34 while several metro lines were out of service; after Boston’s MBTA needed repairs during very snowy winter, Uber started regularly surging at 4x the normal rate; and even in their hometown of San Francisco, Uber was looking out for Number One during a BART outage by surging at 4.7 the usual rate.
Remember, just because surge pricing doesn’t always make headlines doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, or that you have to put up with it. Stay safe this holiday season and keep your wallet safe, too!