It’s Nice They Warned Us, But Uber Plans On Some HUGE Surcharges This NYE

Published by on December 28th, 2012

Uber

We’ve been big fans of town car service Uber since they hit Seattle. The international alternative to taking cabs offers an amazing app to call for a car plus the advantage of being picked up and driven around in a lovely, clean town car by a friendly driver. Yes, they’re a bit higher than a cab but the ease of use and the swankiness of the service made up for that. It also helps that the majority of the drivers are usually nicer and more lgbtq friendly than their surly cabbie counterparts.

But, we’re a bit irritated by an email we just received from Uber  (and, it apparently went out to all their local customers). Uber wishes us a “Happy New Year!” but they’re also letting us know that rates for New Year’s Eve are, well, GOING TO BE QUITE  A BIT HIGHER!!!

Here’s the bulk of the email they sent:

Our Seahawks made the playoffs (Yea, 12th Man!), The Pike Place Market turned 105, and the world fell in love with Seattle darling, Macklemore. We have no idea what 2013 holds, but we’re sure that New Year’s Eve will set the tone.

If you plan on ringing in the New Year in style, adopt these Uber resolutions to have the best trip experience possible.

Expect to pay more

Seattle stays up past its bedtime on December 31 — there will be tremendous demand. The prices will increase in order to maximize the number of cars on the road during peak times. The average NYE price multiplier is 2X. During extreme spikes an Uber rider could expect a $100 minimum fare in addition to mileage and time charges. Prices will decrease when cars become available. We do this to make sure Uber is always a reliable ride.

Plan ahead

You will be informed of any increase in price prior to booking a ride.

The most expensive times to take an Uber are 8:30pm – 9:45pm and 12:30am – 2:45am. The best times to take an Uber on NYE are before 7pm, 10pm – 12:10am and 3am onward.

Introduce yourself

There will be many sleek black Uber cars on New Year’s, but only one of them is yours. Make sure to ask the driver their name, confirm that it matches the name you were issued upon dispatch and have the driver confirm yours — if he or she doesn’t, do not get in.

For more NYE tips, check out our blog post. If you’d like to learn more about surge pricing, join Uber’s execs for a live Q&A on Monday, December 31st.

Thank you for a wonderful 2012. Have a safe and happy New Year!

Yes, it’s lovely they are warning us in advance of it happening but we need to also point out they have a name for what they plan to do. It’s called:

PRICE GOUGING.

We’re rather egalitarian around here and we don’t like it when we get ripped off or taken advantage OR when the same thing could happen to our friends and readers. Yes, it’s very likely that the costs of doing business on NYE might be a BIT higher but, DOUBLE? A $100 minimum for a ride during peak hours? Are the drivers being paid in gold?

Uber has faced some regulatory issues in some cities due to the fact that Uber doesn’t operate as a taxi/transportation service but as an app that links riders to drivers. New York City for one, has put up a fight to Uber expanding in their city…a fight where Uber just scored a victory. (Though Uber did face considerable criticism for price surges in the area following Hurricane Sandy).The company has been accused of finding loopholes to get around normal regulatory restrictions for taxis and for hire car services. Fans of Uber and less restrictive transportation regulations have cheered their success and charged that the bureaucracy of many municipalities favors long standing taxi services at the expense of new start ups like Uber.

That’s probably a valid point but it also needs to be pointed out that Seattle’s legally licensed cabs are prevented by law from raising rates during peak periods. Yes, they might be late and the cab might be stinky and the driver surly, but by law you cannot be charged more than the legally mandated amount for a trip from Point A to Point B regardless if it’s half an hour after a Seahawks game, 12 noon on PrideFest Sunday, or 1:55 am on January 1st.

We’re not fans of “surcharges” and especially when it’s going to target potentially drunk people on New Year’s Eve who not be even cognitively aware they are paying said surcharges when then get into a town car. The whole purpose of taking public transportation when setting out on a fun night of revelry is to avoid the hassles of driving and parking AND the dangers of driving while intoxicated. If you can afford to take a surcharged Uber, then fine. If not, we advise you to take a legally regulated taxi cab or have a designated driver. If you’re from the ‘burbs but you have friends on the Hill, see if someone will put you for the night or get a hotel room.

And, while we still like the IDEA of Uber and the comfort and convenience, we do not admire their decision to charge these ridiculously high rates at the expense of consumers trying to avoid driving while inebriated.

Try again, Uber.


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