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A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poll about Uber surge pricing. While 60% of my readers said they would wait out Uber surge pricing (or find another means of transportation), for some people it’s a matter of “when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go” (20% of my readers).
I’ve found that alcohol consumption tends to magnify not only the demand for Uber rides but also the bulletproof sense of “eh, I’ll pay for that” (a temporary Rich and Famous complex). And then when the buzz wears off and you revisit your bank account day, one realizes the actual costs incurred.
One young woman (Gabby) woke up the morning after Halloween to discover that her ride the night before had cost her $362. Gabby took to crowdfunding site GoFund.me to raise the money back after realizing she had blown her rent money on one ride.
Uber has done several things to educate consumers about the cost of rides. When an area is in a surge (meaning higher prices), Uber is transparent about displaying that price and the factor by which a normal fare might be multiplied. They also require users to key in the surge multiplier to confirm that they understand their fare will be increased by that factor. And finally, Uber has a fare quote feature available at all times that will help a user understand what a surge might cost.
Apparently she did not think anything of the 9.0 surge factor running at the time of her ride as she would have had to have entered a “9” and then a “0” on the application’s surge pricing confirmation screen before the ride would have been requested.
I can see both sides of the surge pricing argument but to me, it comes down to simple supply and demand. Personally, I have absolutely NO desire to drive at 3 am on Halloween night. Having drunk revelers in my personal car is not my idea of a good time and I’d never do it for Uber’s normal driver pay rates. But the surge pricing is designed to balance supply and demand – to incentivize drivers to supply their cars and to shift the demand to the highest bidder. As more cars become available, the surge pricing goes down.
But “when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go” – even if it’s nine times as much.