Uber charges premium rate for rescue from Sydney siege
Company quickly reverses PR gaff with free fares from cafe stand-off
Uber has been critised in Australia for charging users in downtown Sydney a minimum of $100 to escape an armed hostage crisis currently going on in the Lindt cafe at Martin Place.
According to Mashable, the company was charging up to four-times the normal rate because "demand is off the charts."
"I have never, ever seen it at four-times [the normal rate] and I'm a 1% top Uber user," said Matthew Leung, the user in contact with Mashable. "I understand the way the business works - higher the demand, higher the charge - but four-times at $100 minimum is ridiculous. Almost price gouging at its worst."
After the story was published regarding the price hikes, the company reversed course and announced that all riders in the area would be free, and that anybody who had been charged the higher amount would be refunded.
Uber released a statement which said: "We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney. Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely.
Our thoughts are with those affected and the NSW Police Force. We are in the process of refunding rides. If you have been charged during these hours leaving the CBD please email email@example.com.
Please note that surge pricing is used to encourage more drivers to come online and pick up passengers from the area."
Uber, the company said, will now pick up the tab.