[Update Below]Uber has been the subject of a wave of bad press in recent months across the world, even as its bloomed with billions in estimated revenues. Having drivers who wish death upon cancer patients certainly isn't helping—nor will having drivers who go out of their way to zigzag across Manhattan to take advantage of sleeping passengers and drive up the cost of rides.
That's what Megan, a food writer, claims happened to her this week. Megan ordered an Uber to pick her up after her company holiday party on Park Avenue and 26th Street on Thursday evening just after 11 p.m. She was headed home to Hoboken, which is 4.8 miles from where she had been. She was feeling ill and tired that night, and ended up passing out in the car. When she woke up, she was horrified to see she had a $293 bill. She told us:
And as you can clearly see by the attached route image and screen shots, my driver Adnan took it upon himself to blatantly take advantage of the situation and drive back and forth all over Manhattan before taking me to Hoboken! The trip lasted an hour and logged 14.51 MILES—MORE THAN 3 TIMES the distance it should have been!!! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my trip summary the next morning. And because Uber just charges the credit card on file, I didn't see the ridiculous bill ($293!) when exiting the car or else I would've said something to the driver right then. I was the only passenger in the car and the only stop was to take me home—what was he doing!?
It appears the driver went to the Lincoln Tunnel, then back to the East Side, zigzagging across while doing so. "I remember dozing off and waking up and him just saying, 'yeah, there's a lot of traffic tonight," she noted.
"I know a lot of people that pass out in cars/cabs and I can imagine drivers sometimes take a longer route to take advantage, but this is the most extreme case I've ever seen," she added. "Completely took advantage of a girl riding by herself. Thankfully nothing worse happened!"
Megan told us she takes Uber regularly and has never had a problem with the company before now. She even has helped promote their company for her job; earlier that day, she had tweeted about an Uber charity lunch initiative.
She says she's emailed and tweeted at Uber support several times since the incident, but has been very unsatisfied with their response: "If they took care of it or issued an apology/refund, I wouldn't be writing," she said. "This driver was clearly a bad egg. But they still haven't responded? That's beyond unacceptable."
Now she doesn't think she'll be using Uber again. "There are several competitors out there now, and because Uber doesn't have a customer service number to call it's frustrating if you have a service issue."
An Uber spokesperson said in a statement, "Uber ensures a reliable ride, wherever and whenever, and dynamic pricing allows us to remain the reliable choice, even on the busiest nights of the year. Our in-app features ensure dynamic pricing is repeatedly communicated and approved before any trip is confirmed."
Update: Megan confirmed that Uber contacted her last night, a few hours after the article was posted. "They compensated me for 2/3 of the trip, my total was $119, fair for a 2.8x surge I guess," she said. "And apologized for their lack of response, said it was their fault for that...Crazy that emails, tweets, and negative ratings on the app weren't enough to illicit a response."
A source described the incident as a "technical error with the trip."
Uber notes that customers will be made aware of surge pricing before they confirm a ride; they also are required to manually type in the exact surge rate number before they can confirm the trip.