Uber is often a riot of bad publicity. Whatever it does it attracts the haters. (When your executives threaten members of the media, you can expect some bad press.) Now word comes that Uber has implemented surge pricing in Sydney during the hostage crisis. Some people are accusing the company of “disaster capitalism“–a method of making money that takes advantage of people in bad situations. By allegedly charging a minimum of $100 a ride in Sydney during the hostage crisis, Uber did itself no PR favors. But it may have been practicing simply regular capitalism–based on supply and demand–not disaster capitalism, which is predatory.
Uber Sydney explained the fare increases very simply, tweeting: “We are all concerned with events in CBD. Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area.” That’s easy to understand. But Uber is very sensitive to criticism after squandering a lot of the good will it had swiftly built with customers providing its innovative services. The company has responded to the Sydney fare surge outrage by announcing it will not charge commissions on fares in the hostage area today, with “100% of every fare going to drivers getting people home safely.”