Uber and Lyft drivers are creating artificial surge pricing in Washington, DC to drive up fares. They insist this is necessary to “flight back” against years of declining pay.
Here’s how the trick goes down. The lot outside Reagan National Airport fills up with as many as 150 drivers, some who have been waiting for hours for the evening rush. These drivers told ABC affiliate WJLA Uber does not pay them enough, forcing them to take matters into their own hands:
Uber doesn’t pay us enough, what the company is doing is defrauding all these people by taking 35-40 percent. They are taking all this money because there’s no system of accountability.
One driver explains how the game works:
All the airplanes we know when they land. So five minutes before, we turn all our apps off all of us at the same time. All of us we turn our apps off. They surge, $10, $12, sometimes $19. Then we turn our app on. Everyone will get the surge.
But it takes coordination to pull this off. All drivers must essentially synchronize going offline. That’s where working closely is required for surge pricing. One driver explained:
Someone is standing by that corner. I stand by this corner and the other one stands at this corner and we say turn the app off and then go online.
As all the apps shut down, one person monitors Uber to check on surge pricing. Usually the surge cutoff is about $13. Once that is reached, everyone turns their apps back on at once, with all drivers locking in the surge pricing.
So does everyone play along?
Yes 100 percent. Everyone do it. Everyone knows it’s not worth it. They know if they take a ride from here without surge, without pumping the surge up, it’s not worth it.
Lyft + Uber Respond
Asked to respond, Lyft told ABC:
Lyft takes any allegations of fraudulent behavior very seriously as it violates our community guidelines and can lead to deactivation from the Lyft platform.
Lyft drivers’ hourly earnings have increased 7% over the last two years, and they have earned more than $14B since we launched. Over 75% drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.
At Uber, we work to ensure the reliability of our service for our riders and drivers. This behavior is neither widespread or permissible on the uber platform, and we have technical safeguards in place to help prevent it from happening.
I am not surprised at all by this news, as I’ve written about the horrible service on Uber in DC the past. Drivers clearly hate Uber/Lyft…that much is clear. But rigging the system does not strike me as a way to engender the support of riders and the public at large. I’m certainly not amused…
> Read More: Uber Annoys in Washington, DC