Sometimes when you read stuff on the Internet, your first reaction is to think that some billion-dollar company scammed a poor user. So it’s no surprise to see that some folks are up in arms over this:
Uber surprised a 26-year-old Baltimore woman with a spooky Halloween bill that hit $326 on a routine ride, resulting in her inability to pay her rent and general Internet outrage.
I don’t know about her, but I think Uber does a pretty decent job of explaining its controversial surge pricing when it kicks into effect. Surge pricing basically adds a multiplier to the cost of the Uber in order to adjust for supply and demand. So if you’re trying to catch an Uber during peak hour, the cost might be 2X or even 9X. This isn’t any different from retailers raising prices when goods are in short supply. Some would deem it opportunistic, but it’s just supply and demand adjusting itself. If this were a 9X price on something that we absolutely must have to survive, then it’s a cause of concern, but there are alternatives to Uber out there, and as always, users can vote with their wallets. They can choose not use Uber, or wait until the surge ends. I usually just wait it out or take a regular cab.
I think it’s a pretty common practice to check the price of something before purchasing too. So if you see that the price is jacked up nine times, I think common sense would be to not buy it unless it’s an absolute necessity.
I do find her solution intriguing though. Using a crowdfunding service like GoFundMe to get herself out of a fix might be frowned upon, but I don’t see much difference from asking your mates for some help from time to time.
Hopefully this incident does bring more awareness to Uber’s surge pricing model though. Next time before you book that Uber, just take an extra glance to make sure you’re not agreeing to something you’re not comfortable paying for.