Fake surge – How Uber continue to mislead their drivers/customers

Stop press: 22/11/2022, The RSDU has filed an official complaint with the ACCC. [ Click here for more information]

Drivers in Melbourne have been reporting an increase in the appearance of “fake” surges lately. The increased popularity of other heavy weight ride share operators in the market has definitely increased the demand for drivers’ time and attention.

The idea behind Uber’s surge pricing is to adjust prices of rides to match driver supply to rider demand at any given time. During periods of excessive demand when there are many more riders than drivers, or when there aren’t enough drivers on the road and passenger waiting times are long, Uber increases its normal fares by a surge multiplier.

Uber drivers are being visually notified via the app of surging areas, being enticed to drive to these areas with the premise of higher rates. Lately however drivers have been reporting being presented with normal base rate jobs in areas clearly marked as surging on the Uber app map, and for extended periods of time.

We have been receiving reports from affected drivers (see below video taken by a driver on Thursday 13th, 2022), where rides clearly appear to be originating from a “very hot” surging area, when the actual job is nothing but a normal base rate (or very close to it) job. 

Fake surges are bad for drivers, and bad for customers. Bad for the entire industry as a whole as it creates a false perception and instability, being the reason for many of the cancelations passengers are experiencing lately and long pick up waiting times.

Uber Fake Surge Video Evidence
This 27-minute video was sent to us by a driver, demonstrating a severe case of fake surge at morning peak time in a high demand part of town (Kew, Melbourne). The fake surges were consistent throughout that day (Melbourne wide) and appeared systematic.

In this video Uber surge maps showing extreme surge demand (red hot map colour normally indicate a 2-3x surge multiplier) yet the driver is receiving only base rate trips, again and again. No actual surge trips in sight. A very questionable event, particularly on such very high demand rainy day (Thursday 13th November).

This video is a demonstration of how a multibillion Australian company, Uber, is misleading and deceiving its drivers (and possibly the public) in broad day light.

It is best to open this video in your browser directly in YouTube. The video direct link is:
copy the link and paste directly into your browser address bar.

RSDU is calling on all drivers to ignore Uber surges and definitely never chase them.  Drivers should aim to be at or around likely to surge areas, but do not accept Uber job requests, unless an actual surge trip of x1.5 or more comes through. Considering Uber’s low, loss-making base rates, drivers are better off driving for rideshare platforms that actually show the trip destination and the expected trip earnings.

Passengers! Next time you see Uber ads bragging about short pick-up times and rock bottom low prices, you will have a better idea of how exactly they are achieving them, by often cheating and shortchanging your driver. Baiting them using ‘surge’ to drive to certain areas and then switch. 

Important to note that not all Uber surges are fake, however lately they do appear to be happening too often to too many drivers from all around the country.

Have you experienced fake Uber surges in your area? The RSDU would like to hear from you. Please contact us for more information.

What’s next?
Misleading drivers/customers on such grand scale must have its consequences. Drivers are Uber customers too. The RSDU is looking into filing a formal complaint with ASIC and a request for full investigation into the matter.

Stop press: 22/11/2022, The RSDU has filed an official complaint with the ACCC. [ Click here for more information]


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