'I feel like I was robbed': Uber fees skyrocket on New Year's Eve

Taking an Uber on New Year’s Eve became a costly regret for passengers across Canada after surged rates on the busy night translated to exorbitant bills, with some riders charged hundreds of dollars to get home.

See Full Article

In Montreal, a 40-kilometre drive for two passengers turned into a $625 bill.

“We might have well just rented a room or something at that point,” passenger Veronica Iafrancesco told CTV Montreal.

Uber sent emails and posted notifications to social media warning customers that a higher-than-average ridership was expected, and that fees for the ride-hailing service were likely to multiply due to increased demand.

Split your fare with friends to help lower the cost of your trip this NYE. Cheaper rides? Cheers to that! ubr.to/nyeguide

Posted by Uber on Thursday, 31 December 2015

For Iafrancesco and fellow passenger Miria Blanco, the ride was 7.5 times the normal price. It was their first time using the app, and they say they didn’t fully understand what “surge” pricing meant.

Uber often multiplies rates when demand jumps during peak times, such as rush hour, or when fewer Uber drivers are on the road. The app includes a button that alerts users when a surge has ended and prices are back to normal.

Licensed taxis do not increase rates during high-volume periods.

An Edmonton man says he was charged more than $1,000 for an hour-long drive home on New Year’s Eve.

“I could fly across the world for this price. Instead, I went from one end of the city to the other,” rider Matthew Lindsay told CTV Edmonton.

The fare normally would’ve normally cost $125, but the surged pricing pushed it 8.9 times higher to a total of $1,114.

Lindsay calls the fare “outrageous” and says he’s been in touch with Uber to get a partial refund.

“They just haven’t acknowledged the fact that this is an unfathomable price,” he said.

An Uber Canada spokesperson told CTV Edmonton that surge pricing “helps ensure” that riders “can always push a button and get a ride within minutes – even on the busiest night of the year.”

The spokesperson added that Uber has been in touch with Lindsay and will review his charges.

Some customers say they feel the company took advantage of the popular party night to boost fees when passengers may have been intoxicated and less likely to notice or fully understand the surge.

“I feel like I was robbed,” said passenger Cassandra Zakaib, who paid $320 for a New Year’s Eve ride in Montreal.

Zakaib received a 25 per cent refund for her bill after she complained to the company. Still, she says the fee was unnecessary.

“They knew that people would be under the influence and so… they are taking advantage of people in a vulnerable situation,” she said.

Surged prices have drawn criticism for Uber in the past. Uber’s rates quadrupled in Sydney, Australia during an armed hostage attack in 2014, leading to angry outcry on social media.

Uber responded on Twitter by saying that the surge was automated and that the company would refund riders who used the service as the crisis unfolded.

CTV News technology expert Carmi Levy says it’s up to passengers to check Uber’s rates and confirm a fare estimate before hailing a ride.

“Like any other consumer product or service, it is buyer beware. Before you pull out the app you should read what you’re getting into so that when you get into the vehicle and it’s time to pay, there are no nasty surprises.”

Similar spikes in Uber’s rates were reported around the world on New Year’s Eve.

9.9x Uber surge here in Miami Beach right now... highest I've ever seen pic.twitter.com/oX0ZxftfI7

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 1, 2016

Yessssss @Mario_ionas with the @Uber surge of ??? pic.twitter.com/AiVDTbrrfv

— Ryan G (@T20INC) January 1, 2016

Stats paid $205 for an uber ride last night pic.twitter.com/VkL1KGgp31

— Cam Bussiere (@Cam_Bussiere) January 1, 2016

With files from CTV Montreal and CTV Edmonton



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Advice for retirees who must answer the question: Buy, sell or rent?

    Economic CTV News
    It wasn't that long ago when the outlook for retirees focused on baby boomers downsizing and moving into smaller homes in the country -- trading an urban lifestyle with a relaxing, rural retirement. Fast forward 20 years, and many retirees are opting to stay in their homes for longer: renovating, upgrading and improving accessibility along the way. Source
  • Shkreli defies advice to keep quiet before fraud trial

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- "Pharma Bro" just won’t keep his mouth shut. Even with his federal securities fraud trial set to begin Monday, Martin Shkreli has blatantly defied his attorneys’ advice to lay low. The former pharmaceutical CEO, who became a pariah after raising the cost of a life-saving drug 5,000 per cent, has been preening for cameras and trolling on social media, potentially complicating his defence. Source
  • Asian markets higher after Wall Street rebound

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING - Asian markets rose Monday after Wall Street rebounded from losses to end the week higher on stronger oil and natural gas prices. KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 per cent to 3,174.73 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent to 25,809.12. Source
  • Takata Corp. files for bankruptcy in Japan and U.S. following air bag recalls

    Economic Toronto Sun
    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators. The company announced the expected action Monday morning Tokyo time. Source
  • From condoms to caskets: merchandise marks Canada's 150th birthday

    Economic CBC News
    It's been said that Canadians are not brash about their patriotism, but you wouldn't know it from the variety of merchandise, big and small, being snapped up in advance of Canada's 150th birthday July 1. From T-shirts to hats, flags to flasks, condoms to caskets, goods adorned with celebratory logos are popping up faster than you can say sesquicentennial. Source
  • Canadian lumber producers brace for second round of softwood lumber duties

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Canada's softwood lumber industry is bracing for a second wave of U.S. duties expected to come Monday that could put further pressure on producers, particularly smaller ones, to cut jobs. The U.S. Source
  • Warning labels might be coming to cheese: CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

    Economic CBC News
    Miss something this week? Here's the consumer news you need to know from CBC-TV's Marketplace. Get this in your inbox every Friday. Sign up here. Fake drugs American prosecutors accuse CanadaDrugs.com and its CEO Kris Thorkelson of selling unapproved and counterfeit cancer drugs to U.S. Source
  • Debt, protectionism could drag down improving global economy

    Economic CTV News
    FRANKFURT -- The global economy has picked up and prospects for the next few months are the best in a long time. But the recovery is maturing and faces risks from populist rejection of free trade and from high debt that could burden consumers and companies as interest rates rise. Source
  • Air bag maker Takata bankruptcy expected Monday

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- Drowning in a sea of lawsuits and recall costs, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. is expected to seek bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the United States early Monday. Takata was done in by defective air bag inflators that can explode with too much force, spewing out shrapnel. Source
  • Air bag maker Takata files for bankruptcy in Japan, U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators. The company announced the expected action Monday morning Tokyo time. Source