Uber Faces Legal Action in Montreal Over NYE Surge Pricing

Legal aid clinic Juripop, representing Montreal resident Catherine Papillon, has served notice to Uber to reimburse clients charged surge pricing on New Year’s Eve. Juripop called Uber’s charges “deceptive, abusive and disproportionate.” Surge pricing occurs when demand outstrips available UberX driver supply.

Uber has until February 28 to comply and reimburse clients, or it will face a class-action lawsuit, Juripop lawyer Marc-Antoine Cloutier told CBC News. Another 20 people have also contacted Juripop for support regarding Uber surge pricing as well.

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Papillon, a first-time Uber user, was charged surge pricing of $82.20 on January 1 for her ride, versus the regular rate of about $10, which Juripop claims the ride-sharing service “clearly profited unfairly from its dominant position in relation to users who have accepted the terms of the contract, which is a clear violation of its duty to be loyal to them.” The Montreal resident told CBC News she “didn’t understand its dynamic pricing on peak periods.”

An Uber spokesman said the company will not comply with the request, because users are clearly notified of surge pricing increases and must give clear consent before proceeding within the app. Users also have the option to be notified when surge prices end.

Jean-Christophe de le Rue told CBC News “Uber was a reliable option to take people home safely on New Year’s Eve,” adding “This would not have been possible without the dynamic pricing.”

On January 1, tens of thousands of Montrealers used Uber to get home, explained de le Rue, noting the average price increase was only 2.2 times the normal rate.

Uber Canada has made headlines recently, after an Edmonton man agreed to surge pricing of $1,100 on his New Year’s Eve ride—with Uber agreeing to later refund half of his bill.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    If you’re too drunk to drive, you might also be too drunk to notice surge pricing. I’m sure Uber knows this.

  • Guest

    How’s that any different from drunk shopping on any other online retailer?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I haven’t seen 8X surge pricing on Amazon. I believe no one has ever accidentally ordered a $1000 Kindle. I can imagine someone ordering 10 Kindles for $1000 if they’re drunk, but then at least be getting 10 Kindles, not 1.

  • Tim

    My first inclination is to say “To hell with these people! If you’re too drunk to read the warnings in the app, your problem!” On the other hand, I don’t think anyone unfamiliar with the platform actually anticipates a ride home costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. This is especially so because it’s sold as normally delivering cheaper prices most of the time. By asking a newer user to confirm a “multiplier” you are introducing something into the mix that people aren’t normally used to dealing with what is basically a cab service by another name. I’m a big uber supporter, but no matter how you spin it, they’re basically preying on a “gotcha” moment with their clientele. The app shouldn’t ask you to enter the multiplier for confirmation, but rather the potential final price based on your destination. These prices are an unfortunate because reasonable expectations are such that a cab bill won’t be hundreds or thousands of dollars. Nobody is agreeing to these rates in good faith. I once had a user experience instructor say, “people are not stupid, only technology is stupid. It is our job to make it less stupid.” I use uber exclusively, but I still don’t think their app should prey on confusion.

  • Ryan

    There is a fare estimate option that will take into account the surge price (if any) to your destination. But the app should say to new users “before confirming your ride please use our built in fare estimator” because I do not remember it saying so when I first downloaded it. I’m also curious with new regulations on the table if uber’s surge pricing will be capped.

  • Crosseyedmofo

    from the town that gave us les carée rouges *rolls eyes*

  • Dave

    Well, people wanted to opt for an unregulated private company’s service. This is the kinda of skeezy crap that companies will try and get away with. The grass isn’t always greener.

  • definingsound

    $80 for a $10 ride in the early hours of Jan 1 is normal. It happens every New Years’. Whether it’s a person just driving their private car, a taxi with his meter off, or an Uber driver; everyone pays $80 if they need to use a hired driver on New Years’ Eve.

    My recommendation: party at distant venues the other 364 days a year. That way, you get to hang out with the real party crowd. New Years’ Eve parties are mostly populated with everyone. New Years’ is the best time to hit something local and private.