The case against the Uber economy | The Brock Press

Maybe you have a stable, full-time job, and are not concerned whatsoever with troubling trends in the world of work (you should be). Your only worry should be how Uber affects you as a consumer. But the outlook for that side of things isn’t great either. Uber functions on a model of ‘surge pricing,’ (i.e., Price gouging) where prices increase as demand for rides rise. Although Uber likes to hide this behind neat language like ‘dynamic pricing,’ what it translates to for the consumer is outrageous fares when the weather is rough or there is an event such as New Years’ Eve.

This leads to some real horror stories for passengers. According to the Chicago Tribune, a customer was charged a total of $640 for a 30-mile drive to nearby airport. In India, fares have increased by 50-70% in a matter of weeks. A man in Alberta was charged more than $1,100 for an Uber ride from Edmonton to St. Albert. Research conducted at the University of Warwick has found Uber drivers plan to trick the app into thinking there is a shortage of cars, leading to higher demand and far more expensive fares.

And remember what I said above about Uber being a model for the gig economy? Apparently their surge pricing model is rubbing off on other businesses. The Chicago Tribune has reported that restaurants, including several well-known spots in London, have introduced surge pricing. Uber has also begun charging riders “a premium based on where they’re traveling” last year, according to Business Insider.  This means in addition to the place you’re going and how many other people are taking an Uber at the same time, you will also be charged based upon your route of travel.

Over-charging for fares is not the most egregious activity Uber has engaged in. Transport for London (TfL), the regulatory body for transit in London, refused to renew the app’s license, with one of the main reasons being a “lack of corporate responsibility… [in] its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses.” FOI requests made by The Sun in the U.K. show that police investigated Uber drivers for a total of 32 allegations of rape and sexual assault from May 2015 to May 2016. Fortune reported that an Uber driver in suburban Atlanta was arrested in late 2017 for charges of rape of a 16-year old passenger. A website, titled www.whosdrivingyou.org, has been created to monitor criminal and suspicious activity from ridesharing-app drivers, singling out Uber in particular: “Neither Uber nor Lyft uses fingerprints or law enforcement to background-check their drivers. And Uber doesn’t even bother to meet with drivers in person before allowing them to ferry passengers.”

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The case against the Uber economyThe Brock Press.