Uber upfront pricing: not always a fixed price

I had thought I’d casually noticed the final UberX fare not matching the fixed upfront quote–then I caught a big 69% overcharge. Separately, the Rideshare Guy and the San Francisco Business Times have both noted in September 2016 that Uber is apparently skimming drivers’ portion of the fare–overcharging customers and keeping the difference.

Call to action for Uber ridesharing passengers

Screenshot your “upfront price” when you’re about to summon an Uber ride. If you contact Uber support through the app after the ride, they will refund you. This is something that could rise to consumer protection advocates’ attention:

  1. claiming a fixed price for ridesharing ride before starting the ride
  2. during/after fixed-price ride, increasing the price without record of the quoted upfront fixed pricing

Background

In April 2016, Uber started rolling out “upfront, per trip fares” where “riders are given the actual fare before they request their ride”.

Uber upfront fares advertisement screenshot
Screenshot of Uber blog post advertising upfront fixed fare pricing.

Discovery of Uber overcharging for “upfront fixed-price” rides

I hadn’t been carefully watching UberX pricing since the “fixed upfront fare for UberX” policy change as I just assumed it was fair and honest pricing. I simply never double-checked that the actual UberX fare matched the upfront fixed quote. Then, on September 27, 2016 I took a ride that I specifically remembered was quoted at about $8 (a typical price for this route), but after the ride I was charged $13.42.

Uber crammed a 69% fare increase on what was supposed to be a fixed upfront fare.

The driver has missed the exit turn on the Uber app navigation because a stacked ping (request for next UberX ride near present UberX dropoff) came in and in balancing driving safely at speed and trying to clear the ping, he missed the exit. I was reading my email and didn’t see the exit coming in time to help the driver until we missed the exit. Then upon ending the ride, I put in a request for Uber Support under the “my fare doesn’t reflect the upfront pricing”.

Within 30 minutes, Uber refunded $5.49, bringing the net fare back to $7.93. I told Uber that I didn’t request a route change and that it was Uber’s own app that caused the problem, popping up a message that overrode navigation at a critical juncture of the trip.

So consider screenshotting your Uber fixed price quotes, and compare them with your actual fare–you might be getting a big increase in final fare.