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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags social mediamobileinternetsocial networkingInternet-based applications and servicesUberSideCarLyft

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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?