Uber, the social media car service that is trying to get a toe-hold in the Boise market,
stumbled into another PR disaster early Monday, when the ridesharing service jacked up prices in and around Sydney, Australia.
It turns out that Uber's pricing platform bumps up rates when cars are difficult to secure. As a result, car fares were as much as four times the normal rate for a while when drivers were scarce in Sydney's central business district. Uber's technology began jacking up prices during Halloween and New Year's Eve celebrations in 2011 to handle extra demand. The company had claimed that the price hike was designed to help incentivize drivers to make their cars available during high-demand periods.
But when Uber started charging much higher prices this morning in Sydney, where a tense hostage drama was being played out, consumers took to Twitter to lambaste the company.
"How can there not be a human being at Uber who can turn off the algorithm that leads to PR disasters like this," tweeted one person.
Once that criticism went viral, Uber said it would offer consumers free rides in downtown Sydney.