Uber surge sparks passenger outrage as one user receives CAD $1,100 NYE bill

Matthew Lindsay accepted a ride at 8.9 times the regular price on New Year’s Eve 

Zlata Rodionova
Monday 04 January 2016 12:21 GMT
US Messenger users might not have to look at this screen again
US Messenger users might not have to look at this screen again (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

An Uber passenger is calling for fairer prices and better warnings after being charged $1,114.71 for a cab ride on New Year’s Eve.

Matthew Lindsay, an electrical technologist from Edmonton, Canada, accepted a ride at 8.9 times the regular price on New Year’s Eve after celebrating a wedding at the Southwood Community League in Mill Woods.

The journey required several stops and the customer said he had not calculated the final rate himself nor received an estimate from the cab-hailing company.

"At this point I had no context, no idea, what the end cost was going to be. Those are things you don't think about. You're just trying to get home responsibly,” Matthew Lindsay told CTV Edmonton.

Uber’s surge function, which kicks in during rush hours or at any time when the customer demand is higher than the number of cars available on the road, has drawn criticism before.

In the US hundreds of customers took it to social media to complain after waking up to huge bills on New Year’s Day.

Many blamed Uber for taking advantage at a time when they were under the influence of alcohol and trying to get home responsibly.

Others made fun of the situation.

Matthew Lindsay said the fact that he was drinking made him more vulnerable to the excessive rate.

“That’s their main clientele, intoxicated people… I understand that I accepted that surge rate. But I didn’t hit a button to accept a $1,100 bill. I could fly to the other side of the world for that price,” he said to the Edmonton Journal.

A boy called Uber

Uber has agreed to refund half of the fare after Mr Lindsay shared his story with the media on Saturday. However it said that the customer had agreed to the surge pricing.

Uber says surge pricing is one way to ensure everybody can get a ride home on a busy night.

"When more people need rides than there are drivers on the road, surge pricing (provides an incentive for) drivers to offer rides where and when they are needed most," spokesperson Jean-Christophe de Le Rue said in an email.

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