Uber: to an extreme or excessive degree
The Uber taxi alternative has been getting lots of media attention over the last year or so. Most of it positive. That is until the recent New Year’s Eve debacle. Since the first of the month Uber has been in the news not for providing a service, but for uber-gouging its clients.
Stories abound about New Year’s revellers acting sensibly and, after having a few drinks, opting to take an Uber ride home only to be charged as much as seven times the usual rate. Uber claims that the ‘surge’ pricing is an attempt to induce more drivers to make themselves available to fulfill higher demand.
But some folks found themselves being charged amounts equal to an airfare for a ride home from a downtown bar. This is a despicable uber-abuse of people trying to act responsibly.
I have never been a fan of the Uber concept. In Montreal we are spoiled by an over abundance of taxis. I imagine many of us have experienced the phenomenon when waving to a friend across the street and having three taxis almost collide rushing to you thinking they are being hailed. Montreal taxis are regulated and owners pay a hefty price to get a taxi license. Uber is unregulated and anyone can sign on to be a driver. Seems to me that’s an attempt to jump the line.
But now, with class action suits pending, the Uber folks have shot themselves in the foot. Basing a business on providing a similar service to regular taxis but at a lower price is one thing. Scalping customers when demand is high is another. Imagine a corner store selling batteries and bottled water at seven times the usual price during a power outage. Of course demand is higher, but does that mean you should gouge customers in the short-term, or provide service at the usual rate – or lower – to keep people on side for years?
Perhaps the best example of price gouging can be found in the travel industry. Airfares and hotel rates balloon during ‘high season’. But even these culprits don’t increase things sevenfold. That is both extreme and excessive, as well as a good incentive to stick with regular taxis.
IKEA gets it right. When it is not raining they sell umbrellas for $10 and when it is raining the price drops to $3. I imagine the increased volume on rainy days results in a profit.