Here in New York City and other parts of the Northeast, the snow has begun to fall and it likely won’t stop for the next 24 hours or longer. Some estimate the city will be buried in up to 30 inches of snow by late tomorrow.
For customers of Uber and Lyft, that should bring up nightmares of blizzards past when Uber’s surge prices hit seven to eight times the normal rates — or upwards of $30 a mile.
With that in mind, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference, “Price gouging in the context of an emergency is illegal.” In response, Uber and Lyft have capped their surge prices at 280% and 200% respectively.
The cap is a welcome gesture, but doesn’t that still constitute “price gouging in the context of an emergency”? Under New York State law, price gouging is defined as an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption of the market.” Like many laws, there’s a bit of vagueness written into that language, and I’ve reached out to the Attorney General’s office to ask whether Uber’s and Lyft’s capped surge rates qualify as “unconscionably excessive” and will update the post if I hear back.
Seriously. This is a company whose business model is, “We’re contemptible greed-head ratf%$#s.”
Why do people use this, and why do their massively underpaid drivers stay with them?