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Perth Uber passengers have hit out at the ride-sharing service for its surge pricing on New Year's Eve despite multiple warnings from the company that fares were likely to rise during peak periods after midnight.
Uber passengers hit with massive surge pricing
Angry customers take to social media over Uber's "surge price", after some customers were slugged with hundreds of dollars in charges. (Vision courtesy ABC News 24)
In December, Uber's Australian general manager David Rohrsheim warned passengers fares would potentially triple during high demand, while an email sent to all Uber users on New Year's Eve provided tips on how to avoid surge fares by checking the estimated fare price before approving a ride.
Despite the warnings, some Uber users claimed they were caught off-guard by the hiked prices with one man alleging a 20 kilometre trip from City Beach to Hilton at 1.30am on New Year's Day cost him $332. At 8.9 times the standard fare.
The backlash from passengers is similar to reactions from previous New Year's Eves, with the evening heralded the busiest night of the year for taxi and Uber drivers.
Uber claims only 10 per cent of fares booked from 5pm New Year's Eve to 5am the following morning experienced a surge of more than triple a standard fare, while 70 per cent received no surge at all.
On Sunday, WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder defended Uber's decision to have the controversial surge pricing model, saying once legal, the State Government did not intend to change it, as long as it remained transparent.
"We're not going to really interfere with what a company does as far as a fare prices goes, that's up to the consumer, if they're prepared to pay for it," he told ABC News.
"The environment, from a regulation standpoint, will be just ensuring the providers are transparent in their fares.
"[Customers] have got to be agreeing to a price before they accept a ride and, providing that's occurring, then we want to allow competition to dictate what that price will be."
Uber said the surge fares around busy night-spots on New Years Eve resulted in passengers only having to wait an average of three minutes for a ride.
The surges are designed to encourage more Uber drivers to be on the road during peak periods.