Uber says it will refund users who were charged surge pricing after Brooklyn subway shooting

Ride-sharing app says it disabled surge pricing following shooting, after facing criticism over higher fares

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 13 April 2022 01:09 BST

Uber has said it will refund customers who were charged surge pricing after a shooting at a subway station in Brooklyn, New York.

On Tuesday, a gunman wearing a gas mask opened fire in the 36th Street and Fourth Avenue station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The attack, which occurred during rush hour Tuesday morning, saw at least 10 people shot, and more than a dozen injured.

Late on Tuesday 12 April, police named Frank R James as a person of interest in the case, though authorities were careful not to suggest that Mr James carried out the shooting.

Police said 33 shots were fired in the shooting, and announced a $50,000 reward for information about the crime.

After the attack occurred, Uber began facing criticism from New York City residents, who noticed that the ride-sharing platform was subjecting users in the area to higher fares due to “increased demand”.

“Fare surge after a mass shooting in Brooklyn when subways are shut down. Shame on you @Uber,” one person tweeted along with a screenshot of the increased Uber prices. Another person shared a screenshot of the increased fares and wrote: “@Uber turn off surges in Sunset Park. People are scared, let them get out safely.”

Following the criticism, Uber said in a statement that it had “disabled surge pricing” and capped pricing citywide, before stating that it would be refunding users who were charged surge pricing in the aftermath of the attack.

In the statement, shared by HuffPost journalist Philip Lewis on Twitter, Uber said: “Our hearts go out to the victims of this morning’s terrible shooting in Sunset Park. Following the incident, Uber disabled surge pricing in the vicinity and capped pricing citywide.

“As always, Uber strives to be a resource for New Yorkers aiming to get around New York City. If anyone on our platform experienced unintended charges during this emergency, we will work to get them refunded.”

The company confirmed it would be refunding “unintended” surge charges in a statement to The Independent.

According to Uber, surge prices occur when demand for rides increases, with the platform’s website noting that “there are times when so many people are requesting rides that there aren’t enough cars on the road to help take them all”. On its website, Uber states that the increase can occur in instances of bad weather, rush hour and special events.

“In these cases of very high demand, prices may increase to help ensure that those who need a ride can get one,” the website continues. “This system is called surge pricing, and it lets the Uber app continue to be a reliable choice.”

However, in instances where a major emergency has occurred, Uber says it will immediately cap trip pricing in the area and refund unintended surge charges that users might have experienced.

Ride-sharing platform Lyft also faced criticism after users reported seeing similar surge pricing in the Brooklyn neighbourhood following the attack. “Fare surge after a mass shooting in Brooklyn when subways were shut down. Shame on you @Lyft,” one person tweeted.

In a statement to The Independent, a Lyft spokesperson said: “We are actively monitoring the situation in Sunset Park and have currently suspended Prime Time pricing for riders who are in the area.”

The company also said it is “working to adjust fares for certain riders who paid Prime Time prices when the situation first unfolded”.

A manhunt is currently underway for the gunman, who authorities said opened a gas canister inside the subway carriage before shooting people inside and on the subway platform as the train pulled into the station.

Police are currently searching for the suspect, who was described as having a “heavy build” and wearing a gas mask, a “construction style” vest, and a gray hoodie.

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