Uber’s Opaque Pricing Sucks

Dear Mr. Travis Kalanick,

I am addressing you directly, because

  1. you don’t have a helpline where i can talk to someone and explain my issue.
  2. the links that you provide in your generic responses show 500 Internal Server Error.
  3. your facebook team is redirecting me to the above stated links.
  4. instead of actually resolving my issue, your customer care seems intent on only closing the tickets that have been assigned to them, regurgitating the generic automated responses interspersed with the generic bovine dung that they have been fed from their supervisors.
  5. and while you claim to have transparent pricing, you refuse to divulge any breakdown of the fare charged to me.

So, i hope you help me resolve this because somewhere the idea of a billion dollar customer-centric, transparent organization unable to solve such a simple issue doesn’t settle well for me.

I took a 20km trip on Wednesday night for which the estimated fare was around INR 750. Now, the trip could have been taken via 2 routes,

  1. a 45 km long route which included passing through an expressway and tolls,
45 km long route which included passing through an expressway and tolls
  1. a 20 km long route which would have involved going through the city, but taking about 15 mins longer due to traffic.
20 km long route which would have involved going through the city, but taking about 15 mins longer due to traffic

I asked the driver to go via the second route, anticipating the traffic to go down as the evening progressed(which didn’t really happen).

Now as i understand you have surge pricing, which while not appreciated by everyone, is something which i find fair. You are creating a fair marketplace. GoogleMaps shows the long route as the better option to take, and it looks like your algorithm takes this route into account while calculating the estimated fare. Why do i think so? Because, this route has tolls, and your estimated fare showed tolls. And it’s fair to assume that you must be considering one route while estimating the fare, rather than averaging it over all possible routes.

Now, here’s the thing about estimated fares — they are only estimates. If i were to ask the driver to go 10 kms further, you would charge me extra for those 10 kms, and won’t be satisfied with charging only the previously estimated fare. Why? Because i took a different route. This again can be confirmed via the behavior in Uber app. The moment i crossed the marked destination, while coming back home, i received a pop-up stating — “If you change your destination, or take a different route, your final fare would change.”

Problem

When i received an invoice, i was shown tolls in my fare, which means that you provided me a fare assuming the route i took to be the longer 45 km route. And when i somehow reached out to one of your customer care support people, they only deducted the toll and marked my complaint as resolved.

This is the final message i received from customer support.

Hi Rahul,
Thanks for getting in touch about this. This is Santosh from Uber support, I hope you’re having a great day.
I have reviewed your trip and looks like you were shown an upfront fare of INR 769.83 before you confirmed before this ride. So i am sincerely apologize for any adjustment to the fare.
we request you to bear with us your fare was correct for this trip.You are not charged more fare.As you are our premium costumer so we don’t want to take more fare. and thank you for your feedback as it helps us enforce our service.
The fare considers duration, distance, high demand in the area, tolls, and local conditions (traffic, road blocks). It also includes service tax payable to the government. Since the upfront fare is system generated, the breakdown of the same is not accessible.
A client like you truly deserves the best of customer service, so if you need further assistance, we are just one email away and we’ll always here to support you.
I hope I was able to help. Thank you for your warm hearted consideration. If you have other concerns, feel free to contact us.
Thank you for highlighting this instance to us. You are important to us, have a wonderful day.
If you have any further feedback that can help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Appreciate your understanding in this regard.

The following are the issues i have with this mail.

  1. What does upfront fare mean? Shouldn’t it be estimated fare? Would the fare remain constant if i were to ask to driver to go around for another 100kms in circles?
As you are our premium costumer so we don’t want to take more fare

2. What does that mean? Do you want to charge regular customers more? Like do you willingly fleece non-premium customers more for some devious reasons?

3. What do you mean it’s system generated? The system generates the fare using some logic, right? Or are you rolling a dice? What’s the logic?

4. What does resolving an issue mean at Uber? Do you consider every reply a resolution?

However, my main concern is you are charging me an estimated fare based on a route i didn’t take. Either you provide me a breakdown of how the estimated fare became my actual fare, and then how are you finally computing my final fare.

Or, you must admit you have highly opaque pricing standards.

Regards,

No more an Uber fan

P.S — Received another generic mail from Uber, stating we have no clue about pricing.