When rideshare algorithms don't work--Surge Pricing Pissed Riders after NYC Subway Terrrorist Attack

(Preet) #1

Every big issue hits rideshare companies Uber and Lyft after the NYC bombing on Monday. The massive surge of people requesting rides to get away from the area caused the ridesharing companies systems to jack up the price, in some instances asking for an x2.5 increase in fare. This automatic response of a software algorithm turned against both companies when customers started to post-complaint on social media, complaining how the Uber and Lyft are taking advantage of a terrorist attack and the fear of bystanders to make more money.

Photo: Erik Thomas

Uber spokesman Alix Anfang stated to the media that when they started to read reports of the incident and the complaints they disabled the algorithm that controls dynamic pricing for the affected area and was initiating a refund to all customers that took a vehicle from the moment the attack was registered to when they stopped the surge pricing.

A Lyft spokesman also stated words in a similar vein to those of Uber and added that the affected area they were dealing with was the Port Authority Area only.

Uber has been in similar situations before, but not from an automatic system function. Back in January 2017 when the President Trump's initial immigrant travel ban fueled the NY Taxi Workers Alliance boycott that took place at JFK, Uber thought to cash in and turned off their surge pricing. This action started off the #DeleteUber movement.

Another incident that arose was from surge pricing glitches, where Uber charged a passenger in Toronto a whopping $14,000 for a 5-mile trip. The technical error

It is not the first time that Uber has found itself in hot water over surge pricing. Separately on Monday, a Toronto man was forced to shell out $18,518.50 for a 5-mile Uber ride, when a glitch in surge pricing caused his bill to skyrocket. While this is a one-time issue, it goes to show how the rideshare algorithms are not foolproof, and all trip charges should be double checked. After all, we might notice $18,518.50 but would we notice a $0.05 addition? Something to consider when you provide over a million trips a day.