The Price Is Too Damn High: Are Uber Surge Prices Turning Customers Off?


Uber launched in Accra, Ghana to much fanfare. When people used the services, there was a lot of positivity. The prices were really good and cheap. It seemed everything was fine and dandy.

But over the last couple of weeks, there seems have been a few changes.

As well as signing up individuals with private cars to join the Uber Driver Partner program, Uber also recruited taxi drivers as well. But that’s not really a big deal. As long as the taxi isn’t falling apart as it approaches your pick up point and the fare is good, it’s still good to use.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is more of surge pricing. A LOT of people of talking about and I can’t help but notice it as well.

Over the last few days, I have noticed that surge pricing is almost always activated. When the Uber service was in its infancy, I could hardly get an Uber car in my area. But now, as the service seems to have matured, I’m now getting service. But more often than not, there’s surge pricing in effect.

The last Uber trip I took was in my area and the surge pricing was 1.4x. But when I’m in other areas, I notice that the surge pricing is really high. I’m talking 1.8x, 1.9x and sometimes 2.3x.

Are people really demanding Uber cars that much? If you don’t know, Uber price surging goes into effect when there’s a lot of demand for Uber in a particular area but few drivers around. But that seems to happen a lot.

I signed up to be an Uber driver a couple of weeks ago. I have access to the Uber driver map. This map tells me where on the map that places are surging. I can’t help but notice that there’s a lot of surging all the time. Sometimes I see areas that show 2.3x.ย Of course, that’s great for me as a driver. But as a rider? Not so much.

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What my driver map looks like. Darker red indicates high surge areas

People are complaining. Some say that they’re paying more for Uber when a local taxi would take much less in fares. Also, if you’re calling an Uber and a taxi shows up and you’re paying surge pricing, it would be kind of strange. Why not just call an ordinary taxi then right?

To be fair, Uber surging pricing is just using economics: supply and demand. I don’t think it’s an intentionally ploy to just get more money. But knowing Ghanaians and their sensitivity to price, who knows if they might just lay off using the service and revert back to the normal taxis. Some people can still afford surge pricing but the majority might not.

 

There’s now competition coming (See: Taxify). If that new service is cheaper and good enough as Uber, I wouldn’t be surprised to see consumers jump ship.

We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks when Taxify launches. Until then, some people might have to deal with surges for a while. Or just stop using the service entirely.

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