After we wrote about Uber's weekend stupendous, wintry price-gouge-athon, a reader in otherwise lovely Los Angeles left a transit horror story of her own. Here's the brief tale of one woman's very expensive, very short trip to Hollywood.
Copied and pasted, in its entirety:
While many people's counter-arguments focused on ill weather and the fact you can take the NY subway for $2.50, I live Southern California where neither of these factors were an issue. This past Saturday, I booked Uber (with no clear warning that surge pricing was in effect until I received the receipt) to take us just 14 miles (it's actually 12 miles, but our driver took us the long way, of course). The trip cost an outrageous $357.
It wasn't snowing; it wasn't raining; it wasn't New Year's Eve. It just happened to be 7pm—not 9pm where most people are prime to go out nor 2am when bars are closing. There was absolutely no excuse whatsoever to be charged the surge price—not even their "supply and demand" cop-out justification, which falls short in this instance. On a clear night with near-perfect weather and at least 10 Uber vehicles within my proximity at the time of the reservation, there was plenty of "supply."
I e-mailed Uber support 4 times and still haven't received a response. Then I went on Uber support and noticed they marked my case as "solved," even though nobody had gotten in touch with me.
I've always been an avid Uber user, but with non-existent customer support and a lack of transparency, I truly believe they have more issues than meets the eye. When filing for a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, I noticed there are many complaints against Uber for these issues. The constant uproar on their social media pages complaining about the price surge, not receiving receipts, stonewalling customer support, marking cases as "solved," and the fact that this business doesn't even have a phone number, raises many eyebrows.
Uber is so deeply and cowardly rooted in its "supply and demand" key messaging, that they use it as a crutch when under fire—whether it's with the media or with the public. Which I guess, shouldn't be a surprise, given Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was once quoted saying "Make sure these writers don't come away thinking we are responsible when things do go bad...for whatever reason these writers are starting to think we are somewhat liable for these incidents that aren't even real in the first place," in an accidental e-mail that included the press. Oh, they're real alright, buddy.
Uber has been a PR nightmare from day one. Kalanick, go back to the drawing board and educate yourself on how to run a legitimate business. I'm sure accountability and social responsibility are covered in Chapter One.
Our reader here isn't the only one with an unexpectedly pricy ride through California:
Remember: the free market is infallible.