If You Got Slammed With Huge Uber Prices On New Year's, You Weren't Alone

January 2nd 2016

Laura Donovan

On the morning of January 1, many were furious about the exorbitant amount of money they spent on Uber rides for New Years Eve — which the ride-sharing app used as an opportunity to significantly raise prices.

Though Uber has received flak for implementing surge pricing during busy periods in the past and even warned riders of higher costs early on the afternoon of New Years Eve, many felt ripped off for spending hundreds of dollars on rides that night. Others worried that significantly raising prices would mean more people would opt to drive drunk, rather than pay the surge pricing.

CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter wrote on Twitter that Miami Beach costs were almost 10 times the normal rate, the highest he'd ever seen it.

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A photo posted by kentsd (@kentsd) on

Customers also reported multiple driver cancelations and being charged much higher surge prices than they initially agreed to. Whatever surge multiplier Uber customers put in the app should be the surge multiple that they're confirming, so this is a mistake in the system that customers should report to customer service.

Uber Facebook complaint

Uber Facebook complaint

Uber Facebook complaint

"Surge Pricing shouldn’t be a surprise," Uber wrote in its New Years Eve guide early in the day. "Let’s toast to you running a Fare Estimate in the app before you ride. To avoid the highest fares, head to the festivities early or catch a ride right after midnight."

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While 84 percent of U.S. riders saw < 3X surge pricing, 60 percent of U.S. trips had no surge. Uber's infographic about New Years Eve numbers reveals that demand increased by 250 percent between 12:01 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.

Uber NYE statistics

An Uber spokesperson released a statement via email to ATTN: explaining that the surge prices are in place to ensure customers are able to get rides during busy times.

“Our goal is to make sure you can always push a button and get a ride within minutes — even on the busiest night of the year - and surge pricing helps ensure that choice is always available. When more people need rides than there are drivers on the road, surge pricing incentivizes drivers to offer rides where and when they are needed most. Riders are repeatedly notified about the pricing directly within the app and asked to confirm and accept increased fares, or can opt for a notification when prices drop. When folks know that the option for a reliable ride is at their fingertips, it becomes much easier to make the choice not to drink and drive.”

The logic being, if drivers can make an extra buck working on a holiday, there will be more incentive to drive on a crazy night like New Years Eve. People can see surge pricing on their phones, so they have to go through two confirmations before they can request a ride. They also have the option of deciding whether or not they want to take a ride when they see surge prices.

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Even so, many complained on social media that Uber could potentially encourage drunk driving if its prices get too high on busy nights.

Uber Facebook complaint

Others had less sympathy for Uber customers and said that they shouldn't have been surprised by high costs. Many also said regular cabs exist, as do subways, buses, and other ride-sharing services such as Lyft. Some also said expensive Uber rides are a lot cheaper than DUI and attorney costs and faulted Uber riders for failing to take advantage of free public transportation services on New Years Eve.

Uber complaints on Facebook