The always-controversial Uber came under extra heavy fire last week when New York City customers complained of exorbitant price surges during a snowstorm, with fares jumping to seven times their normal amount.
But the customers weren’t getting any sympathy from the libertarian disrupters over at Uber. After all, this is the core of the Uber business model: When demand for a ride goes up, the price goes up, which will hopefully encourages more drivers to get on the road.
D.C. may have been spared a snowstorm-pricing debacle, but riders can expect to seem some price surges on New Year’s Eve, one of the biggest nights for driving services.
Nairi Hourdajian, Uber’s head of global communications, won’t predict what the price surge could be on Dec. 31, but says that prices on Dec. 31, 2012, were, on average, double the normal fare. Rider data from last year shows that the most difficult times of the night to get a car—-in other words, the most expensive—-were between 8:30 and 9:45 p.m. and between 12:30 a.m. and 2:45 a.m. The easiest times were before 7 p.m. and after 3 a.m.
UberX, which is advertised as being 18 percent cheaper than a cab at its base price, will also be subject to the price surge.
Hourdajian notes that customers are notified of the increased prices three times on their phone before they confirm the ride. If they don’t want to pay the price, they can cancel the order request and try again. “I think what’s most important is this pricing changes really quickly,” Hourdajian says. “If they see surge pricing is occurring, then they should check again in just a few minutes.”
For those who want to go old-school this New Year’s Eve and take their chances at hailing a taxi on the street, D.C. cabs, which are regulated by the city government and are only allowed to hike their fares during a snow emergency, will offer their normal rates.
Image courtesy Uber