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3 On Your Side

Valley woman feels 'taken for a ride' over Uber fare

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Gabrielle Dugie was looking forward to celebrating this past New Year's Eve by surrounding herself with friends, family and good cocktails. "We all had cocktails. Every one of us."

Not wanting to drive home after having a few drinks, Gabrielle did the responsible thing. She and a relative arranged for a ride by contacting the ride service Uber. She requested to be driven from the New Year's Eve party in San Tan Valley and taken to her Mesa home, which is about 40 miles away.

Gabrielle says she didn't think twice because she's used Uber before for this route and only paid around $40.  "I had already planned on calling Uber. I’ve used them before probably two or three times in Mesa as well from as San Tan Valley out to Mesa."

Even if you plug Gabrielle’s route into the fare estimate given on Uber's website it says the ride should only be between $35 and $47.But on this night, New Year's Eve, things would be different. On heavily traveled nights when demand for drivers is high, Uber implements something called "surge pricing," meaning they tack on a surcharge on top of your regular rate.

For Gabrielle that surcharge gave her sticker shock when she arrived home."I was thinking it was going to be in the $40 mark, maybe at the highest, like I said maybe $100. And it ended up being $412 rounded up."

$412 for a 40 mile ride home?  That's more than a plane ticket from Phoenix to most East Coast cities. According to Gabrielle's receipt that was emailed to her later, Uber indicated her $46.16 Uber fare had surge pricing at 8.9 times that rate, totaling $412.62 and that's what they charged her. "I felt taken advantage of and lied to. Just shocked, straight up shocked."

It's not just Gabrielle either. Countless people around the nation say they too have been victimized by Uber's confusing 'surge pricing.' But Uber defends the practice, saying every consumer like Gabrielle agreed to the surcharge when they ordered a ride. But Gabrielle and others say after a few drinks no one should be forced to read fine print or do math to arrive at a total price. They just want a ride home for a fair charge and Gabrielle says $412.62 for ride home is outrageous.

“I will never use Uber again and I’m going to tell everybody I know."

Again surge pricing for Uber happens during high peak hours like New Year’s Eve. Remember that next time you call for a ride and make sure to read the fine print before you accept.

Uber sent 3 On Your Side a statement that can be read below:

“Our goal is to make sure you can always push a button and get a ride within minutes — even on the busiest night of the year - and surge pricing helps ensure that choice is always available. Riders are repeatedly notified about the pricing directly within the app and asked to confirm and accept increased fares, or can opt for a notification when prices drop. When folks know that the option for a reliable ride is at their fingertips, it becomes much easier to make the choice not to drink and drive.”

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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