The private-taxi service known as Uber has got some marketing issues to work out, the biggest being a “surge pricing” policy which is turning off some customers and drawing an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.
What is surge pricing? According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it’s a trend among Uber’s drivers that is giving customers of the so-called ride-sharing leader a sort of sticker shock for the digital age.
In the new world of smartphone app-assisted Uber, Lyft and other driver-for-hire services, prices seem to accelerate a little too suddenly, turning off surprised passengers.
Uber explains its rationale for surge pricing here. “For the uninitiated, surge pricing helps maximize the number of Uber cars on the system during times of extreme demand, maximizing the chance that there will be a car available when you need one,” Uber says on its website.
Here’s the BBB’s explanation for giving Uber an “F” rating.
“Consumer complaints allege misunderstanding Uber Technologies’ pricing, being misinformed about the overall cost of the services rendered, and not being made aware of ‘surge pricing,’ or temporary increases in the company’s charges,” the BBB explains.
The BBB goes on to say that some consumers claim they were “told the final cost of the transportation service the company provided (through Uber Technologies’ phone app, the driver, and the consumer’s receipt), only to be subsequently charged a substantially larger amount.”
The New York Times wrote about the “F” grade on Thursday, but it likely has been posted for months, if not longer.
Uber’s “F” is based on more than 90 customer complaints lodged against the company over the past three years.
“Uber charged my card $710 for a nine-mile drive without notifying me of the surge charges that were in place at the time of my ride and will not refund,” one customer posted on the BBB site.
Uber’s response: Surge pricing helps to balance supply and demand during popular events or times when many users may be requesting rides with few drivers available.
“Uber’s direct channel for two-way feedback is regularly reviewed and acted on to ensure a high-quality experience,” an Uber spokeswoman said Thursday. “The fact is that consumers in 220 cities around the world have made their opinion known by taking millions of rides with Uber.”