Uber has again come under fire from its drivers.
Uber has again come under fire from its drivers.

Uber drivers protest ‘fake’ surge prices

UBER drivers around Australia are accusing Uber of misleading them through the use of alleged fake surge areas.

Multiple screenshots and complaints have been posted on various social media sites by drivers from Brisbane to Perth with claims that a surge area - where the number of waiting passengers outweighed the number of available Uber cars in the area - turned out to be a dud.

Max B, founder of Rideshare Drivers United Australia, said a surge area also meant increased fare prices, so better pay for drivers, yet they often resulted in costing the driver money.

"When the drivers get there, they are just base-rate jobs or none at all," he said.

Mr B., who asked for his surname to not be used, said the complaints started increasing in November.

"Some drivers will complain Uber makes them drive 10km to 15km to a surging area, then they'll sit there for 30 minutes with no jobs," he said.

"So they've just lost an hour of time and depreciated their car so it's bad for the driver.

"Like anything with false advertising, someone gets hurt."

A Brisbane driver, who asked not to be named, said he had previously asked Uber Australia about the surges.

"I've asked Uber Australia and they came back with a message saying there's a lot of drivers who believe that if a rider simply opens the app it can create surge.

"Yet when I asked Uber directly, they said they actually have to book a car to trigger a surge," he said.

A map of surge areas as they appear to Uber drivers (Facebook picture)
A map of surge areas as they appear to Uber drivers (Facebook picture)

 

A Facebook post by a Queensland Uber driver
A Facebook post by a Queensland Uber driver

"Another method some of us driver's query is Uber's predictive software. We wonder if Uber predicts wrongly that there's going to be demand in a particular area and there isn't."

The driver, who said he had been working for Uber for more than two years, said there were legitimate surges during New Year's Eve, but other times it was questionable.

"I was at Paradise Point this morning and it said I was sitting in the middle of a surge area … but I wasn't getting any requests for a ride, even though the (fare price) increased while I was sitting there, so that seems rather odd," he said.

"Another thing is, when you're driving to a drop off, most often when we get within four minutes of the destination if there's more available work in the neighbourhood, you'd get a ping to let you know there was another job.

"So, you'd think if I was driving someone and dropping them into a surge area, and they've known for 20 minutes that's where I was going, then I'd get a job."

A driver from the Sunshine Coast posted that she was sitting in a surge area when she was, instead, sent to a job 12 minutes away.

Fares in surge areas can be up to three times the cost of a normal fare.

An Uber driver’s Facebook post complaining of fake surges
An Uber driver’s Facebook post complaining of fake surges

 

 

A Facebook message received by a Perth Uber driver when he queried surge areas
A Facebook message received by a Perth Uber driver when he queried surge areas

An Uber spokeswoman denied any fake surges.

"We want driver-partners to be successful so they continue to choose Uber, which is why we invest in innovations to get more riders using the app and by sharing information with driver-partners to help them identify which parts of a city are busier than others at various times," she said.

"If the number of riders on the Uber platform outstrips the number of available driver partners, fares increase, but once the number of available drivers in an area rises, fares will return to normal."

The spokeswoman said dynamic pricing, or surge, helped promote greater reliability and lower wait times on the Uber platform.

"It's a familiar concept for consumers: airline tickets, hotel rooms and sports game tickets are often subject to price changes in response to fluctuations in demand," she said.

Mr B said until the situation was rectified, he recommended drivers ignore the surge areas provided by Uber and to instead stick to known peak times or actual booked fares from surge areas.



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