File picture: Tyrone Siu / Reuters.
Johannesburg - Uber is under fire for “illegally” increasing its prices as demand soars.

Earlier this week, social media was abuzz after a regular Uber user took to Twitter to vent her frustrations after using the app’s services.

A Twitter user who goes by the name SammyNorton23 wrote to Uber RSA claiming her boyfriend had been “robbed” by a driver who decided to use alternative routes, resulting in a final taxi fare of R738.64.

“This is totally unacceptable! My boyfriend took an Uber home as he was too drunk to drive after his company year-end function, and your driver took him on a scenic route of Pretoria!

“Should have been an R80 trip! Seems your drivers take advantage of intoxicated users!”

In response, Uber said the user should be sure to pay what was displayed on the driver’s phone.

“If you ever face any issue, please contact us after your trip ends so that we can assist you,” said Uber RSA.

Spokesperson Samantha Allenberg said: “It is important to note that fares remain the same regardless if riders are paying with cash or card.

“Riders will always see the fares up front before accepting.

“All riders have to do is enter their pick-up and drop-off locations, and this feature will show them the price for that trip.

“Up-front fares are calculated using the expected time and distance of the trip, traffic conditions, as well as the availability of driver-partners. This way, riders can always decide what works for them and their budget.”

According to Allenberg, after each trip, drivers and riders are asked to rate each other to keep standards high.

This sparked reactions from other Twitter users, claiming the same kind of thing had happened to them.

In a tweet, @Sihle_M1 said: “I find it unfair that when you have a ‘surge’ the pricing is ridiculous.

“For a trip that costs me R70 I ended up paying R192 during a surge. That’s daylight robbery!”

Allenberg explained that as the festive season got under way, rider demand was unusually high.

“The dynamic pricing algorithm automatically increases prices to encourage more driver-partners to come on to the app and cater for the demand.

“When demand and supply are in line, prices quickly return to normal.

“You will know when dynamic pricing is in place, because you will be notified from the moment you open the app, and will be reminded as you request your trip.

“Some riders will choose to pay, while some will choose to wait a few minutes to see if the rates go back down to normal.”

The Star