Uber has apologised to Sydneysiders for maintaining surge pricing during the siege of a cafe in the city's central business district last week.
In an email sent to your correspondent*, and presumably to all Uber members in Sydney, the controversial firm says
The email opens with “The events of last week in Sydney were upsetting for the whole community and we are truly sorry for any concern that our process may have added.”
The company goes on to explain that all it wanted to do was get people out of town and that “Surge pricing is algorithmic and kicks in automatically when demand for rides outstrips the supply of cars that are on the road. This encourages more drivers to the area where people are requesting rides.”
The email then admits that “We didn't stop surge pricing immediately. This was the wrong decision.”
As we reported last week, after an outcry on social media saw Uber accused of profiteering at a time of crisis. Uber subsequently cancelled surge pricing and indeed made trips out of the CBD free while continuing to pay premium rates to drivers.
But the email's not all expiation, as this section of the text shows:
“It's unfortunate that the perception is that Uber did something against the interests of the public. We certainly did not intend to. We will learn from this incident and improve as a result of this lesson. Uber is committed to ensuring users have a reliable ride when they need it most - including and especially during disasters and relevant states of emergency.”
Is that an apology? Or an emailed version of The Fonz's stuttering?
The email continues by letting readers know “... we have listened to the feedback and we are working to standardise a global policy to ensure we're serving communities in the most efficient, effective and helpful way possible at all times.”
We await that policy with interest. ®
*My Uber account is strictly for research purposes. The couple of times I tried to use Uber it was more expensive than cabs. I won't use Uber X – cabbies hereabouts do it tough and don't deserve to be “disrupted” by an organisation that flouts the law.