Uber’s notorious Surge Pricing kicked in during the hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia yesterday. Customers who attempted to hail an Uber ride during the time when a gunman took a cafe hostage found that prices had increased by four times. The outrage was quick as many users turned to social media to express their displeasure, which caused the service to backtrack on the pricing and instead offer free rides out of the central business district.
Surge Pricing is a ‘feature’ of Uber that raises prices during times of high demand. The company says that this is to encourage more drivers to come online and pick up fares, but it has had the unintended effect of angering people who just want to get out of the area. Drivers stand to earn more during times when Surge Pricing is in effect, but it is occasionally not possible for them to get out on the streets. New York after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a prime example of Surge Pricing gone wrong.
Australians eager to get out of the Sydney CBD yesterday were shocked to learn that their fares were costing around AU$100 (RM287). Fortunately, Uber soon backtracked on the increased pricing and promised free rides for those who wanted to exit the area. It has also promised refunds for passengers who had already paid for their rides. Drivers who picked up fares during that time would also be compensated as if Surge Pricing was in effect.
Uber has previously agreed to cap Surge Pricing in New York after the Hurricane Sandy debacle, and has ensured that prices will only double during times of natural disasters and emergencies. While that promise happened two years ago, it apparently only applies to New Yorkers.
[Source: The Register]