I have experienced surge pricing from both Lyft and Uber, but nothing compared to what I experienced a couple of weeks ago. While I understand the concept of surge pricing, I also believe there could be a serious problem for surge pricing
Lyft Comes Through on Ridiculous Surge
Supply and demand, it pretty much simplifies to that. The more riders needing a ride, the higher the charge to just enter a car. Both Uber and Lyft have their own definitions on their website, but the bottom line it breaks down to supply and demand
Lyft gives a pretty quick explanation of surge pricing when requesting a ride through Lyft.
Uber, I think, gives a much better (more detailed) explanation on their website. Basically, you can pay the extra charge or you can wait.
I understand the idea surge pricing, but that doesn’t mean I like to be taken advantage of. When I was in Columbus a couple of weeks ago, I experienced a surge pricing that was so high, I felt it was more price gouging than an extra fee.
Pricing for the weekend
Last week, I wrote about my stay at the Hyatt Place Columbus/Dublin. This hotel was about 15 miles from the Ohio State Football Stadium, where I saw my Sooner’s play a great game. In order to get to and from the stadium, we needed some a ride. Walking seemed a little unrealistic :-).
While we were in Columbus, we were using Lyft more than Uber, because we were earning both Jetblue and Delta miles for each ride we took. I did price check with Uber, as I wouldn’t actually pay more for a handful of miles. In addition to the extra points, we also had an offer for 50% off up to 10 rides (max of $15).
Each ride was accompanied with a surge pricing, for the all my rides, except one. While there was an increased volume of people, I can’t imagine that at 8 am there was such high demand for a ride. At 25% and 75%, I wasn’t thrilled, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
The surge price of 75% was before the game and we took this trip at 10 am. Well before the game was set to begin. I think it was a little high, but we did have a $15 off coupon, so it pretty much eliminated the charge.
Where I became shocked was after the football game.
Post Game Surge Pricing.
Once the game ended, we made our way out of the stadium and headed toward the main road. There were lots of people walking, although many left before the game was over :-).
After we reached the main road, I pulled out my phone and opened my Lyft App. My jaw dropped when I saw the price to go 14 miles, was over $200! It was only $25 to grab a Lyft to the stadium area. I was beyond frustrated that the price would increase that much! Comparing to Uber, Uber was a little cheaper, but not by much.
We decided to walk away from the stadium, in hopes of seeing the price drop. This dropped initially, but to $160. This was still a crazy amount to pay for a ride we paid $25 for earlier in the day.
After walking around for about an hour, I actually requested an Uber, because it a little cheaper than Lyft. Once I requested the ride, my wait time went from 10 minutes to over 35 minutes. I tried to cancel my ride, and the app froze.
Once I could reopen the app, I cancelled the ride and was charge $5 for a cancelled ride. After reaching out I was given a $5 credit for my next Uber ride.
There were plenty of Lyfts nearby, but they were slightly more in price. Now it was after midnight and I was becoming more irritated and tired. I finally called a Lyft and it was there in a couple of minutes.
While I selected to accept the surge pricing, when I received my receipt I was charged $100 just to enter the car! That was absolutely absurd. But, it is what it is, right? I’ve never had a surge price that high and I really felt this was price gouging.
Reaching Out to Lyft
While sitting in JFK, waiting for our flight back to Bangor, I emailed Lyft about my dissatisfaction of the high surge pricing:
While I was hoping Lyft would realize their surge pricing was unfairly high, I was hoping for a partial refund, but really expecting a “you accepted the charge email.” Less than 2 hours later, I had a response from Lyft about my ride.
Not only was I happy to see the entire surge pricing being refunded back to my card, I was also shocked they refunded the entire surge pricing amount.
As promised, the credit was back on my card a couple of days later.
My Take on the Refund
While Lyft was under no obligation to refund any portion of the surge pricing to my credit card. I do think they realized their surge pricing was unreasonably high, which is why they refunded the entire amount.
If Lyft felt the charges were justified, I do believe I would have received a different response to my email. Even if they felt they were partially wrong, it could have been a partial refund, instead of a full refund
While I reached out, I’m sure there were plenty who did not, so in the end Lyft probably made out quite well on these charges.
While I am happy I received a $100 refund for the surge pricing fee, I also think it was a bogus charge. While I have no issue with surge pricing, I do have a problem with price gouging. Which is what I think happened after the football game. Lyft knew people would have few options and would pay it.
It is always worth it to reach out when you have an issue. You never know the response you will get and in my example a 3 minute email saved me $100.