20 minute Uber ride cost $1,114.71 on New Year's Eve

I’m pretty sure you’re locked in once you accept the ride. But yeah - $125 regular price for a 1 hour cab ride sounds perfectly normal to me.

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Uber needs a meter. Make it part of the app. I know, there are 3rd party apps that provide “Uber meters”, but it should be tied directly in, by Uber, with Uber taking responsibility for its accuracy. It would just be simple customer service. The way they do it now is basically booby-trapping.
This reminds me of discussions about how “customers” of medical services should compare prices, shop around, etc. There are many situations where that is simply not realistic (e.g., emergencies, panic, stress, unconsciousness…). And when you’re getting into a taxi, same thing. Everybody is talking, you’re drunk, the kids are squalling, you’re sweaty lugging bags, and so on. Asking people to do arithmetic on continually-changing pricing is a lot.
Which is why I avoid Uber. When they provide a meter, I’ll reconsider.

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I couldn’t agree more. In many European countries, that’s the final barrier to legally classifying them as a taxi company, fully subject to the same regulation as the rest of the industry.

They could even be kicked out of London: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/16/uber-wins-high-court-case-taxi-app-tfl

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Ahah, you are correct. The snip says the trip was 20 minutes, and the article starts out saying it was 20 minutes, and then goes on to say he got dropped off first and then people continued on, racking up the charges on his uber account…

Why does everything have to be so misleading? The article, Mark’s snip, Uber, the guy. All this mischaracterization and misinformation makes it hard to have a level-headed commentary.

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I’m glad that’s how it worked for you.

My neighbor got the same run around when she tried to get a ride from Uber. She arranged it two hours before her appointment and the app kept telling her that the driver was on his/her way. I noticed that after 40 minutes, she was still outside waiting and kind of panicking, since she had 20 minutes to get to the doctor’s office. I ended up giving her a ride and she got there with a minute or two to spare.

She said that the app usually sends an email with a name and a photo ID (kudos for this) when the driver picks up the job. I suspect that there weren’t any drivers available and the app put her on indefinite hold, which is really shitty.

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If you have a driver, the app tells you their name and shows you their location in real-time.

Have you used Uber?

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"Lindsay said people are vulnerable after they’ve been drinking and surge rates can be confusing.’

Taking financial advantage of willfully drunk-in-public people this way seems quite fair to me.

Here’s a major money-saving tip: Stop getting so drunk you can’t think. It’s quite easy to do.

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Can you get in a taxi if you’re drunk?

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She probably said app, too. This happened about four months ago, so…

Never used Uber, yet. There just hasn’t been a need because I live in SoCal, and the few trips we take (w/spouse) we end up renting a car. Also, we’re homebound drinkers!

My husband sometimes travels for work, but he’ll end up taking a taxi or he and a group of his cohorts will hire a car if it’s cheaper.

Trust me, I’m not saying cabs are better:
-Once I had to stop my cab in Chicago and walk back in the rain because the dude was a misogynist a-hole.
-Another time in D.C., a snow storm hit while dining in Georgetown and if it weren’t for the maître d’, my 80-y-o mother and I (and a German couple) would’ve never made it back to hotel because the cab drivers rarely drive in snow and didn’t want to that night, either.
-Another time, I had to supply all directions from LaGuardia to a friend’s place in Queens (pre-internet maps) because cabs at that time only knew Manhattan.

It’s an hour long ride. His email delay way 20 minutes.

Personally I’m not big on Uber in Edmonton, but I’m not big on the taxi companies, either. If only we could find some middle-ground of service and drivers who aren’t distracted at best and terrifying at worst…

I forgot to add that this was the issue with Uber that day. They kept telling her that driver was on his/her way, but a driver was never assigned to her. Instead of letting her know that there wasn’t anyone picking up the job, the app kept telling her that the driver was five minutes away…for 80 minutes. My neighbor has used Uber many times, but I was the one who figured out that there wasn’t anyone available who would pick up the job.

There seems to be an issue with this part of the service, that’s all I’m saying.

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Uber sends you a receipt with a map of the route taken and accounting of the miles and fare immediately at the end of your trip. If you have questions or concerns (like the driver taking a circuitous route) they will typically refund some or all of your money (I’ve had this happen a few times, and they always took action within 24 hours - sometimes within minutes). It’s not “booby-trapping” in the least. How much more responsibility could you ask for beyond sending you a detailed map of your exact route and accounting of the mileage, duration, and charges?

Surge pricing isn’t confusing in the least. You are warned about the surge price in a full-screen popup, and you are required to separately agree to the surge pricing before booking a trip. I’ve taken several surge trips and the screen is impossible to miss or mis-understand.

Once you book a trip, the surge pricing you agreed to applies to your entire ride, even if conditions change and new pricing is set for new customers that attempt to book trips while yours is underway.

Seems like lots of people who have never used Uber are opining on Uber’s service on the basis of their conjecture of how they’ve heard/they think it works, or slanted articles like this one that don’t tell the full story. Or they’re cab drivers who love the status quo (unlike almost all cab passengers).

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A more detailed breakdown can be found in this article, by the way:

Depends on the driver. I personally don’t enjoy cleaning up vomit so if a potential fare looks green around the gills I say “sorry I’m on a call!”

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Thanks for that breakdown - so yeah, there are two problems here:

1 - Uber doesn’t provide a “Your trip’s current total cost is $” meter, which I agree that it should. Or at the very least let you plan out multi-leg journeys and get a cost estimate based on that. Or, you know, he could have just ended the current trip, and started a new trip for each leg, if he was really that concerned about the cost.
2 - This dude really, really can’t figure out basic math. Surge pricing isn’t confusing, in the slightest - they don’t hide anything, they make it quite clear. The real problem here was that this dude wasn’t able to figure out, based on the costs of his previous short journeys, that his current, much longer, journey, would be correspondingly more expensive.

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The telco operators, at least some of them, prevent consumer backlash by capping the amount spendable on data roaming. Could this be applied here too, so anything above $100 (or other reasonable cap) has to be negotiated explicitly? Or some similar simple mechanism that would prevent such expensive surprises? Even the best of us make mistakes sometime; “brainos” they can be called.

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The problem being, of course, that even a “cheap” $20 base-fare trip would have already very much exceeded a reasonable $100 cap with the crazy 9x surge pricing. The whole supposed point of surge pricing is to incentivize more drivers to go out and accept fares… If you put a cap on big fares, then drivers are going to start rejecting long fares during surge pricing, so they can accept more lucrative short fares (why take a single fare that will take you an hour, but be capped at $200, when you can accept four 15-minute normally-$20 fares, and make $180 apiece?). And then the whole surge pricing model breaks completely.

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Have it as some “soft cap” that allows the customer to accept a costly ride intentionally but not by a foolish mistake. Have it set so the accept warning is not common so people won’t get used to ignore it and just tap through.

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That won’t really help this scenario any way - the dude accepted the costly ride (you have to accept the surge pricing when it’s that crazy) based on the estimate from the first leg… It was only once he started getting into multiple legs of the journey that the cost got super crazy, and the app wouldn’t have any estimate of those costs until you actually started going. Really, the only way to implement a soft cap is to allow people to get an up-front estimate for a multi-leg journey, and have people accept that instead, and not let them change the journey part-way through.

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There’s always one person who makes the argument that ‘you knew what you were doing, so why are you complaining’. But sending an email does not automatically mean that everyone received the email. Here in Australia, some users didn’t get the email and there was a kerfuffle over the pricing. There were apparently some fares that were wildly different than the estimates, and people being intoxicated but reassured by the taxi driver that the fare ‘wouldn’t be too much’, and then getting home to discover they’d been slugged $900.
It’s a legal gray area as to whether someone can enter into a contract whilst intoxicated. Also, you are ASSUMING that the person in the story chose an Uber XL or Black car. But again, here in OZ, some riders were told their surge pricing would be a certain amount, and it ended up being a different amount.

Then, there’s the publicity.Too much surge pricing is OBVIOUSLY a bad business model. Every year, there are stories about Uber surge pricing charging crazy fares across the world. It’s bad for business and at some point, I am sure someone is going to question whether a drunk person can really do the maths to ensure they are getting a fair deal.

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