MONTREAL – Just after 3 a.m. Friday, Veronica Iafrancesco, Miria Blanco and four of their friends left a New Year’s party in downtown Montreal.
Unable to find a cab, they opted for Uber.
The first women got off in Duvernay, Laval. The final destination was Chomedey.
What would ordinarily cost $83 turned into a $625 bill.
According to Iafrancesco, the driver told them the fare would be about $100.
“But we didn’t know that the surge was going to be 7.5 times 100 dollars,” Blanco said.
This multiplier is rooted in Uber’s surge pricing model.
Uber’s YouTube Video explains that, “when demand for rides exceeds the amount of drivers on the road, prices go up to encourage more drivers to go online.”
According to the video, “riders always know the price before they enter,”
The young women were first-time Uber users and said they didn’t understand the surge concept.
On Friday, they wrote an email to the company complaining about the price of their ride.
Uber replied to the complaint saying it would help them out if they had any disputes regarding the charges, but noted that the women had accepted a 7.5 surge at 3:22am.
They have since disputed the charge and are awaiting a reply.
The surge pricing issue has popped up in other Canadian cities as well.
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Matthew Lindsay, an Edmonton Uber customer told Global News that his New Year’s Uber bill amounted to $1,100.
“You could get anywhere in the world for that price,” he said.
Uber Canada issued the following statement to Global News regarding the $625 bill:
“Our goal is to make sure you can always push a button and get a ride within minutes – even on the busiest night of the year – and surge pricing helps ensure that choice is always available. When more people need rides than there are drivers on the road, surge pricing incentivizes drivers to offer rides where and when they are needed most. Riders are repeatedly notified about the pricing directly within the app and asked to confirm and accept increased fares, or can opt for a notification when prices drop. When folks know that the option for a reliable ride is at their fingertips, it becomes much easier to make the choice not to drink and drive.”