Uber customers mostly understand the need for surge pricing in certain circumstances, but some of the ride-sharing service’s drivers are reportedly taking advantage by artificially triggering higher fares.
ABC7 reported last month that Uber drivers were manipulating the service’s app to trigger surge prices at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. Uber claimed that it was not a widespread issue, and that there were safeguards to prevent the malpractice in other areas.
However, Uber drivers have confirmed that the artificial price surge is happening across the country. One of these drivers is Dustin, the man behind the Dustin is Driving channel with over 20,000 subscribers.
“People have been doing this for a long, long time,” he said. “We all know, rule number one, we don’t talk about ‘Surge Club’,” which is apparently what the drivers call the shady practice.
“Come on now. If you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you don’t go tell the world about it.”
Uber drivers have reportedly showed ABC7 how easy and fast it is to cause the artificial price surges. All they have to do is to turn their ride-sharing apps off at the same time. Once they re-launch the app, the drivers will enjoy a price surge by about $10 to $20.
Many of the drivers told ABC7 that they do not want to participate in the so-called Surge Club, but they are forced to do so due to three years of pay cuts. Ride-sharing drivers attempted a strike in May for a similar reason, and while it was not an overall success, the move may have caused second thoughts among investors.
The prices for Uber rides naturally spike in airports due to the surge in demand, so it may be difficult to determine if the surge prices are legitimate or if they are artificially triggered. Uber, however, said that it has taken measures to specifically address such manipulation in airports.
“We have taken steps to address fraudulent behavior at airports and, under Uber’s Community Guidelines, engaging in this behavior may result in removal from the Uber platform. We are reviewing these allegations and will continue to prioritize efforts to prevent it from occurring,” a spokeswoman for the company told Business Insider.