Would you characterize today's events in San Francisco as those indicative of “any change in the market, whether actual or imminently threatened, resulting from stress of weather, convulsion of nature, failure or shortage of electric power or other source of energy"? If so, you must not work at Uber, because though six months ago they promised to cap surge pricing in cases of severely-disruptive weather, prices to use the service were reportedly at one of the service's time highs today.
Uber got the stink eye from regulators in New York after surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy and a snowstorm inspired that state's Attorney General to suggest the company was engaging in price gouging.
As a result, in July they reached an agreement with New York's AG, in which they swore not to jack up prices in cases of “abnormal disruptions of the market," defined in New York using that stress of weather verbiage quoted in the first paragraph. (You can read their full agreement with New York here.)
At the time, said NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, "Uber is expected to propose a similar change to its pricing model nationwide," applying to every branch of their service that feels the surge, from UberX to Uber Black.
But six months later, here we are: flooded all to fuck, over a hundred thousand people without power all damn day, and according to KPIX, Uber is charging their highest fares ever, a reported 3.8x rate.
"By early morning rush hour, Uber was charging $.99 cents/minute or $4.94/mile. The minimum fare was over $16.00," they report.
(Note: SFist commenter TK gently offers an correction to KPIX's assessment, noting that Uber reportedly charged 5x during Outside Lands. The weather was fine those days, everyone had power, and Muni and BART were running as well as usual all three days of the fest. Does that make surge pricing those days more, less, or equally acceptable to today's? You tell me.)
According to Uber Storm Surge, a website apparently set up specifically for the purpose of "tracking the San Francisco storm with surge pricing from Uber," at publication time their rate was back down to 2.3 times their usual rates. SFist hasn't confirmed the validity of the prices reported on that site, but it doesn't hurt to look, does it?
Even in times of the clearest of skies, Uber's surge pricing policies earned them a "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, which did precisely nothing to keep it from being valued at a jaw-dropping $40 billion last month.
And admittedly, today's storm is hardly equivalent to a hurricane or a city-crippling snowstorm. That said, doesn't jacking up prices the same day that public transit was crippled, driving was difficult, and, did I mention, over 100,000 people in San Francisco alone were without power seem a little bit predatory? (You'll be STUNNED to hear that the company has not responded to a request for comment at publication time.)
Good luck with that lawsuit in which LA and San Francisco's District Attorneys basically suggest that how your app calculates fares might be facilitating fraud, Uber.
You're gonna need it.
Related: SF, LA District Attorneys Suing Uber