I might not be the best person to write for or against Uber as I’ve used it only a couple of times.
My first encounter with Uber happened a bit more than a year ago when I had to use it in San Francisco. I felt kind of strange about the whole experience. Since Uber claims not owning any responsibility for what might happen during the ride, then who does? It’s like stepping into a stranger’s car, which doesn’t really make it feel safe.
During the same visit in San Francisco I was participating at the “evil creativity” workshop at Stanford Business School and Uber was mentioned as one of the evil businesses existing today. As I googled the term “evil corporation” I got this:
… usually an enormous amoral multinational company, which values profits over ethics and life, or at least started out as a company that meant well, but ultimately creates infinitely more harm than good.
These companies may be so powerful that they can ignore the law… these companies are primarily responsible to their shareholders, not those affected by their actions.
When I read about their dynamic pricing policy, and especially how they charged up to nearly eight times as much as it usually did during NY storm, the first thought that came to my mind was this: this is just one example how asshole the company can be.
I honestly never thought about their perspective that usually when the prices increases it’s also times when it’s most dangerous to drive. When you think about it, it makes much more sense.
I don’t see a problem with dynamic pricing in general, it happens everywhere and it’s part of business, but I believe it’s part of how you frame it and how you communicate it to your customers. If it comes as a last minute surprise, of course people will be disappointed and a lot of complaints will come towards a company.
I also believe that it’s ok when prices go up, different case is when prices drop after being very expensive. Different groupon sites is a good example for it: some production companies (at least in Lithuania) use these sites as a last chance to sell tickets: imagine you buy more expensive ticket just as it goes onsale and then you see exact same tickets being sold half price some time after. I believe, this is bigger disrespect to your current customers.
To sum up, I believe it’s simply a business and dynamic pricing is part of its everyday life and it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s only part of company’s image how it will be framed.
Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick also spoke at TED2016 just a few days ago. One of the introductions he got by TED’s curator Chris Anderson was “evil genius”. His main idea was what’s the future of human driven cars vs. self-driving cars. That we don’t need to wait 5-10 years and with technology and some small regulation any car could be turned into a shared car. And this would lead to more people in the cars but in less cars.