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SURGING FRUSTRATIONS: Uber customers complain of high prices as demand spikes over weekend

High surge pricing over the weekend across the UK has left Uber customers frustrated as higher demand for available taxis and private hire drivers intensifies.

Demand for licensed taxis and on-demand services like Uber, has peaked this week as workers return to the office environment and children start the new school term.

Frustrated customers of global ride-hailing firm Uber have taken to social media over the weekend to express their concerns over prices charged or quoted to use the service.

John Tierney, complained about the inflated prices in Glasgow, saying on social media: “I’ve never seen anything like this! Sort it out Uber.”

On the same night Katie-Louise, a 24-year-old Manchester customer, called the price Uber quoted her as ‘ridiculous’. She said: “£45 for a 5 mile journey is ridiculous regardless of parklife Uber.”

Another customer from Manchester, Daniel, said: “Sorry Uber but you are literally not worth bothering with anymore.

“If you think £22 for this trip is acceptable you can do one.”

Zac Grierson, a Senior Engineer and Product Manager, said: “Well, Uber today is £28 to go 3 miles. I guess my argument ‘no need for a car when I can just Uber for less’ ends here. Time to get normal taxis again and get a car.”

Uber responded to Mr Grierson saying: “Upfront pricing is dynamic, which means the price is worked out in real time to help balance supply and demand, grow trips and provide better earning opportunities. This helps to give the best price for both riders and drivers.

“When demand in an area is especially high and there aren't enough available cars, fares automatically rise to encourage more drivers to go to the busy areas. This is called surge pricing.

“Surge applies in very busy situations.”

Charlotte Dubes was also frustrated with surge pricing at the weekend. She said: “When Uber think it’s ok to charge an extra £110 to your journey once they have quoted a price of £44 just because they say they are busy!”

Frankie A, asked on social media: “A £20 journey is currently £60 and I want to know why Uber is playing these stupid games.”

Steve Wright, Chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), warned of the potential driver shortage problems when he first contacted the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps in Summer 2020.

Since then very little taxi and private hire industry specific funding has been made available, forcing drivers to look for other work during the pandemic. Licensed driver and vehicle numbers have dropped significantly meaning in some cases the pent-up demand cannot be met.

Private hire drivers working on ride-hailing apps have also been accused of ‘shopping around’ for the best jobs whilst demand is high.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), said via social media: “It's called market forces, unrealistic predatory pricing has resulted in 4/5 apps competing for the same drivers who now shop around for the best prices, going to the highest bidder.

“Most of their customers only used them because they were cheap. They are still getting the same 'convenience' and 'service', but many are now screaming because they have to pay a realistic going rate!”


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