Back in the day we’d always hear horror stories about Uber’s surge pricing, where people would take a 20 minute ride and be charged $500. This was usually shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, on Cinco de Mayo, etc. I didn’t have much sympathy for these people, since Uber clearly showed the surge before you request a ride. So if you agree to 20x surge pricing, that’s your problem.
Fortunately this is less of an issue nowadays, as Uber shows you the fare upfront, so there’s no excuse for not knowing exactly what you’ll pay.
Over the weekend a crazy story emerged of a man who was charged over 14,000USD for a 21 minute ride in Toronto on the evening of December 8, 2017. The passenger took a metered taxi through Uber (which is an option in some cities, and never subjected to surge pricing, but rather you pay what’s on the meter through the app). After the ride he was surprised to find that the total for the 21 minute ride was 18,518.50CAD, or ~14,400USD.
@Uber @Uber_Support what turned out to be an honest mistake is now turning into the biggest blunder of 2017. I’m no longer laughing at wondering when #uber will get their act together. Can anyone help? Obviously, no 20 min fare is $18,500. pic.twitter.com/zBhtMSBy67
— Hisham Salama (@The_Hish) December 9, 2017
At first he assumed it was a mistake, so he followed up with Uber customer support. The response?
“I can confirm that based on the pickup and drop off location of the trip you took, the fare is correct.”
Did he drive across the whole country, or….?!?! It’s amazing that Uber customer support is so incompetent that they could think that a 21 minute ride would cost that much. It’s one thing for the mistake to be made in the first place, but for that to be the response when it’s brought to Uber’s attention? Wow…
Only after his situation got popular on social media did Uber issue him a refund.
So, how did this happen? Apparently this wasn’t a glitch on Uber’s end, but rather the driver incorrectly entered the total fare into the app. While with regular Uber rides the amount is automatically entered, for taxis that are booked through Uber, the driver manually has to enter the total. However, you’d think Uber would set some limits in their system for how much can be entered, in order to avoid situations like this.
On one hand I’d be worried that the driver was trying to pull a fast one, though I feel like if that were the case the driver may have tried to charge an extra $10 or $20, and not an extra $18,000, because anyone would notice that.