No sooner did 2015 end with a Forbes list of the best, most disruptive brands, than “#1 Disrupter”, UBER takes the heat big time for their now-you’ve-finally-gone-too-far surge pricing on New Year’s Eve.
Anyone familiar with Uber knows that when demand gets hot, “surge pricing” kicks in to try to motivate more drivers to come out to meet that need. While I find it mildly annoying on any given day, I also know I have a choice to accept the fare or not. But this New Year’s Eve, when folks were trying to do the right thing and not drive themselves, the surge penalties got out of control, often reported to be up to 10x the regular fare. And too many folks woke on New Year’s Day with more regrets than just a hangover.
As with every social media driven “hot topic” there are two sides to the argument, with most Pro-Ubers saying, “Hey, you accepted it.” But this one seems to have created quite a black eye for the ostensibly helpful service provider. At a time when Uber is making a move to expand its brand even further into other facets of travel, could this have irreparably tarnished the brand? How strong does a brand have to be to withstand widespread customer disappointment? Or does it not matter when you still have a product enough people want?
A Brand: It takes a lot of effort to build, but only a second to potentially break it down. Not the best way to start a new year, Uber.
SOURCES: Buzzfeed 1/1/16, Mobile Marketer 1/4/16, Forbes 11/29/15