Saturday, July 21, 2012

Uber: the good, the bad, the ugly

I used to love Uber. LOVE it. Whenever I can't get a cab, which is often in San Francisco, Uber is there. I always knew it cost more. On average, it is about double the price of a regular taxi when riding within town. No problem - not only am I getting a nicer car with the convenience of not having to pay cash, I'm getting a ride when there previously was none.

Now enter SURGE PRICING! I understand the laws of supply and demand, but I don't understand why Uber feels the need to nearly double their rates when there is a "shortage" of cars. And WHO exactly determines when there is a shortage?

I recently used Uber to get home to the Sunset from Fisherman's Wharf during a "surge" pricing timeframe. The cost: a WHOPPING $84! It should NOT cost $84 for a ride across town. A fare review with Uber just generated a useless canned email response from Brian the community manager telling me all the ways in which I was advised of surge pricing.

My beef is not with surge pricing. Fine, charge a little more when it's busy. I say charge a LITTLE more when it is busy, not A LOT more. There is something seriously wrong with the Uber product, as a whole, when a fare across town costs $84.

Oh and UberX - the supposedly cheaper alternative that sends hybrids instead of towncars? I've tried to use it at least 5 times and there is never a car available.

The once darling app on my iphone's front screen is now getting tucked away in some last page folder somewhere. Riders beware...

Brian, Jul 21 16:58 (PDT):
Hey Craig,
Our goal is to be as reliable as possible and sometimes we see such high demand our supply of available cars gets tight. To ensure we have rides available for everyone who needs one, we have surge pricing which increases our rates incrementally as our demand outstrips our supply and then lowers them back to normal as demand goes down and cars free up. We take notifying you of the current rates seriously – you should absolutely be aware of the higher cost. So, to that end we show the screen pictured on this blog post on your app:

We also include a reminder in our confirmation text that lets you know your driver is on the way just in case: Hi Craig, your Uber is en route! Yacine (4.6 stars) will pick you up in 5 minutes. Note that your fare will be 1.75x the normal Uber fare

Let me know if you have any questions!

Brian SF Community Manager Twitter: @Uber_SF

Craig Given, Jul 21 15:59 (PDT): I'm disappointed that this trip from downtown cost $84. It is way too expensive. I do not understand surge pricing, or how/when it is determined. It almost seems arbitrary. So, I'm just pointing out that a trip across town should NOT cost $84. I am definitely going to reconsider my future use of Uber if it is going to cost this much.

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