$94 For 2 Mile Cab Ride: Uber’s Surge Pricing In NYC Last Weekend

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 11.35.30 PMReminder: I’m giving away 2 American Airlines Admiral Club Passes. Enter for a chance to win HERE.

When I think of Uber, their fun, gimmicky offers usually come to mind. They’ve recently delivered kittens, Christmas trees and had an UberSLEIGH Toy Drive in NYC.

While I haven’t used Uber and know their prices tend to be higher than taxis or traditional car services, I was shocked by an article that Kim sent me a couple of days back.

The article from Gothamist, Uber’s Snow Storm Surge Pricing Gouged New Yorkers Big Time is pretty unbelievable. I think my jaw dropped a few times while reading it.

Last Saturday, NYC was hit with some pretty crappy weather. We had some snow during the day and icy rain at night. Due to the poor weather, Uber put in place an extremely pricey feature called Surge Pricing.

According to the article:

Surge pricing goes into effect when demand for a car reaches exceptional levels, with examples including Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and yes, Icy Wet Snow Day From Super Hell. The idea is that prices are raised in real time in accordance with “supply health,” rising and, eventually, falling as cars become available.

The article also states that Uber is overly transparent about its policy of raising prices on high-demand days.

Since I am not an Uber user, it was hard to judge if this policy was  actually so wrong. It sure sounds like Uber takes advantage when they can. However, if the customers knows the price being charged in advance, I can’t really see what there is to complain about.

Here is an image of one example from Gothamist:

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And here are a couple of Tweets that Gothamist posted:

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The second tweet shown is what really surprised me. If Uber quoted a custmer $64 then how could they be charged $277!

If anybody has experience using Uber, please weigh in on the matter. Does Uber disclose the full fare before your trip begins or do they just give you a starting price or estimate?

Check out Gothamist’s full article to find out more about the NYC Surge Pricing issue HERE.

9 thoughts on “$94 For 2 Mile Cab Ride: Uber’s Surge Pricing In NYC Last Weekend

  1. Uber discloses this way up front. It won’t let you search or signal a car until you agree to the surcharge. I was in NY for the snow Sat. We were going to get an uber but saw 3X pricing. We declined and went out side to hail a cab.

    1. The issue is that customers say they used the quote feature while requesting a ride, but the amount that ended up getting billed was several times the quoted fare. For other customers apparently the app did not indicate surge pricing was in effect when requesting their ride.

      1. I’ve used Uber, albeit only once so far. It quoted me a range, something like $13-$15 for the ride I wanted at the time I wanted, but was very clear that this was just a quote and that it could vary. I wonder whether the problem with surge pricing is that there could be an enormous hike in cost between when you ask for the quote and when you actually get to your destination.

  2. Uber is very clear and upfront about the surge pricing, however, you do not know how much the Uber is actually going to cost before the trip starts. If you take an Uber often then you can probably estimate, but if you are relatively new then you probably don’t really know what 3x pricing means, for example.

    You can estimate a ride in advance, but it is not really that accurate.

  3. I use Uber between 5 and 15 times a week. I assure you that Uber is very transparent about surge pricing. There is a little lightning icon next to the vehicle choice when you are scrolling for the vehicle of choice. [For example, there may be a surge icon next to UberX but not next to the Uber icon, so anyone with at least half of a brain should realize that it will be cheaper to get a regular Uber.] Additionally, they notify you at least 2 more times before you actually hail an Uber that surge pricing is in effect, together with a screen indicating the level of surge. Only a complete entitled douche would use an Uber with surge pricing and the complain about it. Let’s be honest, not everyone can (or should) use Uber, and if you are financially fortunate enough to use Uber, and to not care about surge pricing, then do not publicly complain when the cost is higher than you expected. The rest of us are very happy using Uber in NYC, Mexico City, Paris (a city where it is impossible to get a cab), Bangalore, etc., and love the app, the direct billing to credit cards, and the overall ease of the service. Every driver I have spoken to really enjoys driving for Uber, and appreciates the consistent revenue they get from Uber.

    My only negative thing to say about Uber is that I wish I came up with the idea, because I would be raking in the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

  4. btw, that guy that tweeted his friend “agreed” to a $64 fare is totally wrong. you do not agree to fares up front. You can ask for an estimate only. No up-front contractual agreement re: fare, unless you’re going to JFK from Manhattan.

  5. Heels05- Good move!

    Dani-You definitely ask some good questions related to how Surge Pricing works.

    Jen- Thanks for the info. It sounds like many new Uber customers should be extra careful or they might be in for a pricey surprise at the end of a ride.

    Joey- Good one!

    dginchelsea- Thanks for sharing our experience/ thoughts on Uber. It definitely sounds like Uber is not for everyone and users should be prepared to pay higher prices for the service.

  6. As limo company competing against Uber we see both sides of the issue. On the positive Uber has generated a entirely new customer base. Folks who would never never use a black car service. This has opened the door for new business. It’s technology is great. No doubt. Surge pricing is a grey area. Even though the supply and demand formula makes complete sense there is a limit on how much advantage you take of loyal customer. You don’t see hotels jack up the price by 6x on Christmas Eve. Or even our dear airlines. Ever paid $10 for a gallon of gas.

    Now for the negative. They are twisting regulations and laws in most every state. Making their operations on the road somewhat illegal at many times. My only point is of there is public demand. Wait for the law to be written and accommodate. While we are pay heavy fees and following regulations to be compliant they are not. You can’t just go out robbing gas from gas stations until the law permits. Right?? Another part is has anyone ever wondered who is liable for an accident in the car that cause major injury. Drivers say they are covered by Uber. Uber says the drivers are independent and hence covered by the driver. Of course these 2 points are not of concern to the consumer as a whole.

    Last point is quality of the ride. The chauffeurs are substandard for the most part and maybe not now but the vehicles will eventually be so too. Just make sure you don’t expect the same level of service and quality few years later. But for now. All is good.

    My word of advice. Any big events if u want a car, book traditional. Other days are fine for inner city commuting. Airport Transfer you can get good rates from traditional car service. They are on time and do not cancel jobs if stuck on traffic or the driver does not feel like doing so. How many of you have seen uber accepted jobs cancelled mid way.

    Happy Holidays

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