Uber Defends Soaring Prices During Snowstorm; Gouging Alleged

Is Uber evil for charging up to eight times the normal rate for a ride during a snowstorm?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Are you ready to pay a premium of up to eight times the "normal" rate for this Uber?

    During the snowstorm Saturday that blanketed much of the Northeast, Uber was there -- provided, of course, you were willing to pay up to almost eight times the normal fare for a ride.

    This is part of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's strategy: at peak times, or at times when inclement weather makes drivers leery of venturing out for fares, the flex pricing is supposed to "incentivize" drivers, Valleywag noted.

    But is a $100 charge for a few blocks' drive "price-gouging" -- or is it "innovation"?

    It depends who you ask.

    On New Year's Eve last year, for example, Uber let people know ahead of time its pricing wouldn't be "for the faint of heart." For situations like Saturday's, when roads were awful and rides few and far between, "only the rich" would have been able to afford the luxury of an Uber ride -- when getting around might be a necessity.

    While Valleywag excoriated Uber for jacking up its rates for snow service, tech insider Rafi Mohammed praised the disrupting company as the "future."

    "Uber’s dynamic pricing strategy effectively turns taxis into sitting ducks," Mohammed wrote. Rather than set a price that customers can rely on, "Uber instead lets the market rule" and drops or raises prices based on demand.

    Good for Uber -- but is it good for the customer? Depends if you have $100 to spend on a short ride when you really need it.