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Uber charges Denver man $539 for 18-mile Halloween ride

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GOLDEN, Colo. -- Many Halloween partiers last night opted to pay a driver instead of risking the cost of a DUI, but a Denver man who used Uber - the popular car service - paid a much, much higher price than he ever thought possible.

"Me and my bank account got taken for a ride last night," said Elliott Asbury of Denver.

After leaving a Halloween Party in Golden on Halloween night, Asbury knew getting home wouldn't be cheap.

"I was expecting $44, $50, $60, $100 on the outside," Asbury said.

He had no idea how wrong he was until his first Uber ride came to an end.

"We got there and he pressed the thing on his phone and it said, $539,” Asbury said.

All that for a ride that took him from the Jefferson County Government Center to his Denver apartment near I-70 and Colorado, a trip of less than 18 miles with a fare that neither he, nor his driver, thought was fair.

"(The driver) was shocked, he was embarrassed actually,” Asbury said. “He gave me his card and he was like, 'Make phone calls. Get in touch with customer service. This can't be right.'"

But according to Uber it is right. On busy nights Uber uses dynamic pricing, also known as surge pricing. It multiplies fares as a way to quell demand and attracting a greater supply of drivers.

In a statement sent to FOX31 Denver, a Uber spokesperson Michael Amodeo said, "For many riders in Colorado, Uber is their ride of choice, and dynamic pricing allows us to remain the reliable choice, even on the busiest nights of the year."

The company doesn't hide that pricing. Like all other riders, Elliott was alerted to last night's surge before sending for his car. The surge at the time multiplied his normal fare more than seven times, but he said he didn't realize what that would do to his total fare.

"You just wouldn't stand there and be like, 'Hmm, is this maybe going to cost me half a grand to get home?’” Asbury said. “The thought just wouldn't even cross your mind. It was so outrageous. They could just say, 'You know what? At a certain point, we're not going to charge that much."

Elliott's huge fare was also due to his inexperience with the app. He mistakenly requested a premium, Black Car instead of a cheaper UberX ride because he didn’t see the options or understand the difference. He also didn’t spot an option to estimate his fare.

"It would have been a good button to hit last night, had I known it was there,” Asbury said.

Asbury says he definitely learned his lesson, and he has some advice to anyone else looking to use the service during a similar surge.

"Don't bother man,” Asbury said. “Rent a helicopter.”

Uber stands by its dynamic pricing model as a way to balance supply and demand, but Amodeo said the company does offer a 25% discount to first-time riders who are caught off guard by the multiplied fares. He said the 25% discount will likely apply to Asbury.

 

71 comments

  • Douchemaster Flex

    I see that all the Paid Uber shills are commenting in full force, and attacking this guy for his mistake. In my opinion, If a cab or car company tried doing this type of price gouging, they would get sued, and fined out of business. Also, no one is questioning, the transparency of the algorithm that Uber uses to calculate surcharges. They could be making stuff up, artificially inflating the demand for drivers, or using funky math to rip people off. Also, has it ever occur to anyone, that It is possible for Uber, to purposely design the app, to be confusing, when it comes to the interface and also be slightly deceptive about the pricing? They could be combining these tactics, with aggressive marketing to young adults, the drinking/bar/clubbing crowd, to increase the chances, of them getting overcharged. They know drunken people will use their app more, when they are too drunk to drive, so they could had thought about devious ways to get make more money during their board room meetings with the CEO. Companies have done stuff like this before. It is actually common.. This is why I “don’t believe the hype”, about anything, and I question everything, especially when it comes to products and services being marketed. This is why I’ve always been skeptical about these ridesharing apps, or any product or service that pops up overnight, like Uber. The name even sounds douchey and pretentious, like it’s being marketed to Trust-fund Yipsters/Hipsters and Latte sipping yuppies. Always remember that marketing is basically the art of BSing people into spending their money.

  • adriana

    same thing happen to me we took the ride to the same location and it was only 25 on the way back to the same place we were picked up i was charged 275.00$ there not changeing this which is bull

  • Test

    Making decisions under the influence…….. It could have been worse. On the other hand, it’s a “smart phone” app. There is no excuse for prominently posting the final fare up front. They have the information, it’s lame not to use it.

  • Anonymous

    They did that to me once.. charged me $90 for something that should have been $23.. I emailed customer service and said this scam was HUGE!. They ended up charging me $30 instead.

Comments are closed.