Uber's surge pricing earns it an 'F' on Better Business Bureau test

Some customers claim they were charged the higher amount without notice from Uber

Uber aims to give people an easy way to hail a ride from their smartphones, but its surge pricing is wreaking havoc on at least some customers.

The company currently holds an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization that tries to settle customer disputes and develop standards around truthful advertising and business practices.

Uber's "F" grade -- the lowest grade possible -- stems from more than 90 customer complaints lodged against it over the past three years, with many criticizing Uber's surge pricing policies. Customers say they were not aware of the surge pricing, and that Uber's customer service was unresponsive in settling their complaints.

Many of them say they were charged one price for a ride, then charged a much higher fare later.

"Uber charged my card US$710 for a nine-mile drive without notifying me of the surge charges that were in place at the time of my ride and will not refund," one customer posted on the BBB site.

Uber's surge pricing typically goes into effect during busy periods of high demand, and the company's app notifies customers when surge pricing is in effect before they request a ride. But some of the customers' complaints allege that Uber charged them multiple hundreds of dollars for surge-priced rides without any notification.

Other customers cite fraudulent charges on their credit card statements by Uber, without even having used Uber's app. "I have been charged three unauthorized transactions from this company whom I have never even heard of in my life," one person said.

The New York Times called attention to the grade on Thursday, but Uber's "F" may have been there for months if not longer, said BBB President and CEO Lori Wilson.

The BBB's business ratings are constantly in flux depending on how and when the particular business responds to the complaints and other information posted to the BBB site. Given the number of complaints left unresolved over the past couple months, it's likely that the "F" has been there for some time, Wilson said.

Uber has argued that surge pricing helps to balance supply and demand during popular events or times when many users may be requesting rides, but when not many drivers may be on the road.

"Uber's direct channel for two-way feedback is regularly reviewed and acted on to ensure a high-quality experience," an Uber spokeswoman said Thursday. "The fact is that consumers in 220 cities around the world have made their opinion known by taking millions of rides with Uber," she said.

Uber is also not the only ride-sharing company to have received an "F" from the BBB. Lyft also has an F, due to its failure to respond to three complaints filed against it, the BBB says.

So too does Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Zipcar, for similar reasons.

In traditional transportation options, San Francisco-based Yellow Cab also has an F for failing to respond to complaints.

An earlier investigation of the BBB by ABC News also showed that the nonprofit had given some businesses higher grades after they paid their annual dues to the BBB.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags UberInternet-based applications and servicesSideCarsocial networkingLyftmobilesocial mediainternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?