Uber users contemplate legal action after facing stiff charges
Published Monday, January 4, 2016 12:27PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 5, 2016 7:21AM EST
Uber users who were charged very high prices on New Year's Eve are contemplating legal action against the company.
Because of the high demand on Dec. 31, 2015, Uber increased prices, charging some customers hundreds of dollars more than they would normally pay.
The company calls it "surge pricing," and says it informs customers with a notification of the "multiplier" to the normal rate. It also requires them to type in the amount of the multiplier -- which in some cases was 7.5 times the normal price -- before confirming a ride.
Surge pricing should not have been a surprise, Uber argued, saying the company sent an email warning they charge higher prices during peak times to encourage more drivers to work during those 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", an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.
Many customers said they thought this process was unclear, and did not feel they were adequately informed that their ride would cost hundreds of dollars more than usual.
Now Catherine Papillon, who paid $97 for a ride that she believed would cost $36, is seeking support for a legal suit.
Cassandra Zakaib said she is willing to join a lawsuit and was happy to hear people are joining forces.
"That makes me very excited because I really think that together this public outcry should be heard," said Zakaib.
"The more people say this is unacceptable, the more this will empower us as consumers and defend our rights."
Zakaib has already received a 25 per cent refund from Uber, but said the $320 she was charged on New Year's Eve, five times the normal amount, was "ridiculous."
“I asked for a full reversal of the surge charge and since then I haven't heard from them back,” she said.
Many commenting on CTV’s Facebook page, however, side with Uber, claiming customers should have made themselves aware.
“Learn how to use Uber app. Uber clearly states the price surge with enough time for you to decide whether or not it's worth it. If the cost is too high, make other arrangements. Sure I agree $700 from downtown to Laval is ludicrous but you are not forced to take the ride? I think this is a case of accountability more than anything,” said one commenter, Simone Nessier.
Meanwhile Montreal's taxi industry is attempting to launch its own class action suit against Uber and said it warned people this could happen.
The industry said this should be a lesson that Uber isn't always a better deal than a cab, and argue if Uber can surge charge, why can’t they?
“Why is it good for one and not good for the other one? As long as people pay it will go like that. We can't boost the price one day and lower another like that,” said Dory Saliba of Taxi Hochelaga.