Uber cab ride on New Year's Eve pinches customer for $1,114.71
Intoxicated customers are vulnerable to upcapped sliding rates, Uber user says
An Edmonton man stuck with a $1,114.71 cab fare is calling on Uber to place a cap on surge pricing especially on long distance rides.
After celebrating New Year's Eve at the Southwood Community Centre in Mill Woods, Matt Lindsay called Uber to get him and some friends home in north Edmonton.
Lindsay is not new to Uber or surge pricing. He's been a Uber user for almost a year now and calls it his "go-to form of transportation".
He acknowledges he was not sober, but said that made him vulnerable to what he believes was an excessive rate.
The trip required a number of stops and when the group gave the driver the first location, the driver warned them the surge rate had kicked in and would be 8.9 times the regular fare.
"I accepted that right there," Lindsay said.
After the first stop he did not calculate himself nor receive from the Uber driver an estimate for the next leg of the trip.
"At this point I had no context, no idea, what the end cost was going to be."
About 20 minutes after he was dropped off, he received an email from Uber confirming his final fare of $1,114.71
"I was very shocked at the price," he said.
Would have ended trip
If he had received a final estimate for the trip, he would have ended the trip earlier, he said.
"I would have realized this was getting out of hand and we should reconsider the rate."
Those are things you don't think about. You're just trying to get home responsibly.- Matt Lindsay
Lindsay said he was using his previous trips with Uber as a base understanding of what the trip would cost.
"Generally Uber is very affordable. I can get from northside to downtown for under $20."
He has taken a couple of rides at a surge rate of two times the regular amount, which he said tallied $77.
"With the amount of people in the vehicle and a similar distance, I figured it would be a similar fare."
Lindsay said people are vulnerable after they've been drinking and surge rates can be confusing.
The fare should be displayed in Uber vehicles as it's required by law in regulated taxis and that fares or surge rates for long distance rides be capped, he said.
"Those are things you don't think about, he said. "You're just trying to get home responsibly.
"I made a mistake," he said. "The issue is there was a mistake on the other end as well and Uber needs to own up to that and correct that mistake."
Uber offered to cut his fare in half, he said.
Uber said surge pricing is one way to ensure everybody can get a ride home on a busy night.
"When more people need rides than there are drivers on the road, surge pricing (provides an incentive for) drivers to offer rides where and when they are needed most," spokesperson Jean-Christophe de Le Rue said in an email.
Riders are repeatedly notified about the pricing directly within the app and asked to confirm and accept increased fares, he said.
Uber put together a New Year's Eve ride guide and sent it out 10 days earlier, he said.