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Toronto Commuters Upset with Ride-Sharing Rate Hikes During Power Outage

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On Monday morning, a number of Toronto commuters took to social media to voice their anger at sudden rate hikes that went into effect on Uber and Lyft during a power outage.

The outage affected nearly 20,000 customers and disrupted TTC subway service on Line 2. This drove prices on Uber and Lyft up as much as five times the normal rate.

Jake Williams regularly takes Uber from downtown Toronto to Mississauga and was stunned to see the cost of his ride after “dynamic pricing” went into effect during the power outage. In a statement to Global News Toronto, he said:

“Normally it costs me around $32 to $35 to go back home. This was going all the way up to $110. I was kinda forced to stay in Toronto and do nothing for three and a half hours waiting for the prices to become a little less ridiculous.”

In a statement, Uber acknowledged its dynamic pricing policy, saying that in times of high demand fares increase to ensure that a driver is always nearby. Lyft also employs a similar strategy called “Prime Time” which increases prices when there are more ride requests than available drivers.

Unfortunately, there is not really much that commuters can do when there is a sudden change in weather conditions. However, Lyft does offer a price lock if a user schedules a ride in advance, which can be booked between 30 minutes and seven days ahead of time.

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  • Sidney

    Same here in Montreal. Last night Uber charged me 2x the price because according to the app it was a high demand and not many cars available.

  • SuppLyAnddemand

    This is fair game. Supply and demand. How all things work. The only reason it’s a “problem” is because it’s so dynamic here. But it could very well happen in any item we purchase. E.g. there’s a sudden rapid increase in bananas, prices go up. Obviously, it’d be more rare with bananas but the same concept applies here. Not sure why ppl are whining. Take a cab instead. It’s probably cheaper during peak hours?

  • FragilityG4

    I don’t know about that. The iPhone X had huge demand and very little supply but the price remained the same. Concerts and sporting events always see huge demand and very little supply yet face value remains face value. The only time those prices change is when an individual gets their hands on the item and turns around to flip it to make a profit. Society calls it scalping…. and it’s illegal.

  • Ugh…
    It might be “fair game” or no law against it, I personally just don’t agree with price hikes based on weather or situation. I know it happens all over the world with various supplies, I just don’t like the idea of taking advantage of people in need.

  • Sam

    These companies are here to make money, not to serve the public like “public “ transit. Its about how mush people are will to pay. Public transit do not raise theiy feeds this way.

  • Tim

    Lots of Uber drivers rely on surge pricing to make the gig worth it. I don’t like surges either and when I see them I typically opt not to use an Uber, but if you read into how it works, Uber really does use surge pricing to get more drivers into high demand areas. Yes this benefits them obviously, but it also incentivizes supply.

    To the guy who wrote this in the article:

    “Normally
    it costs me around $32 to $35 to go back home. This was going all the
    way up to $110. I was kinda forced to stay in Toronto and do nothing for
    three and a half hours waiting for the prices to become a little less
    ridiculous.””

    Then protest by not using the service. If you’re using Uber every day to the tune of $35 each way, you’re obviously in an income bracket that most aren’t. Losing three hours of your life doesn’t gain my sympathy.

  • Tim

    They don’t keep the price the same out of sincere goodwill. Apple has crafted a brand that makes customer experience an integral part of a purchase. They have a lot to lose in the mid to long term if they made opportunistic price adjustments as customer loyalty would take a hit. Uber has a utilitarian reason for doing this, they want to get drivers out and on the streets during peak periods. Furthermore, their brand and business model has incorporated surges from its early days. Customers are aware of it from their initiation.

  • iFone

    This shows the lack of financial education most Canadians lack. Read the terms and conditions for the services being provided, and if you don’t like it, don’t use the service. Also, the surge pricing follows basic principles of supply and demand. The same goes when whining about home prices.

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