Taxi service Uber will not have made any friends in Sydney today after introducing 4X surge pricing for those looking to use the service to leave Sydney’s central business district, where gunmen have taken dozens of hostages in a cafe.
According to Mashable, distressed Sydney CBD workers are being charged four times normal prices by Uber to get themselves out of the area, which is currently on police lock-down, with hundreds of officers and snipers surrounding the area.
Uber’s surge pricing dynamically increases the price of taxi fares when there is a rise in demand for the service in the area – normally when a club closes or during rush hour – efficient capitalism at work.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has previously said that the company would “cap” its surge pricing during emergency situations, but it appears either this is not the case in Sydney or the cap is rather higher than some might expect. It is difficult to argue that by charging four times its normal prices, Uber is exploiting an emergency for its own monetary gains.
After a month that has seen Uber banned from New Delhi in India after one of its drivers was arrested on suspicion of raping a user of the app, price gauging people trying to leave the area of an ongoing siege situation is not going to help their public image.