While reports of Uber operating in cities illegally without consent form the city officials may seem like a terrible move on the part of a fairly new company attempting to tap into a large market like the transportation business, Uber has outdone themselves by introducing “surge pricing” in the wake of a hostage crisis situation in Sydney, Australia. For those who are unaware, surge pricing allows a company like Uber, or taxi services for that matter, or really any business, to rise their costs to the consumer based off of a simple principle of supply and demand. This is nothing new and it certainly is within the rights of any company to do so, but residents of Sydney aren’t taking Uber’s decision to introduce surge pricing in their area lightly as the timing just seems like bad form and inconsiderate.
Uber apparently has a policy set in place for situations such as these in which it imposes a set price that they can’t or won’t rise above if there is emergency situation at play. That apparently is only a U.S. applicable policy though so Australia gets to be at the mercy of whatever Uber sees fit as a fair price range. Is this ethical? Probably not but who are we to judge Uber on their decision to provide citizens with a service at whatever price they choose.
This choice by Uber follows a series of controversial business tactics like allegedly calling in fake ride reservations to competing service Lyft in the past, as well as opening up shop in Portland, Oregon before receiving a license to operate. Even though Uber initially began surge pricing in Sydney, following negative media attention over the decision they have since immediately reversed the pricing back to normal costs. Prior to backtracking though, individuals had stated that Uber was charging as little as $100 AUS for a single ride to leave the area of the hostage situation that is reportedly still taking place around the area of a Lindt cafe. Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are on the rise and for good reason as they allow easy access to the service via smartphones through apps. Do you agree or disagree with Uber’s decision to change prices accordingly in a situation like this?