Uber drivers are reportedly colluding to trigger 'surge' prices because they say the company is not paying them enough

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesUber drivers have reportedly worked out how to trigger surge prices.
  • Uber and Lyft drivers are colluding to crank up fares for passengers, ABC’s ABC7 reports.
  • They are able to trigger the “surge” pricing by simultaneously turning their apps off and on.
  • Drivers told ABC7 that they feel like they have been forced into inflating prices because the company is not paying them enough.
  • Uber said in a statement it has “taken steps to address this fraudulent behaviour.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Uber and Lyft drivers have worked out how to game their companies’ “surge” pricing system to run up fares for passengers.

ABC7 reports that drivers have been sharing on YouTube how they collaborate to drive up surge prices. Surge prices kick in when there is a high demand for lifts, such as near an airport or after a major event like a concert or sports game.

In one video, an Uber driver named Dustin – who has more than 20,000 subscribers on his Dustin Is Driving channel – talks about the practice.

“People have been doing this for a long, long time,” he said. “We all know, rule number one, we don’t talk about ‘Surge Club,'” he added, following ABC7’s initial reporting of the phenomenon at Reagan National Airport last month.

Read more:
Driver protests, bans and fighting with the competition: how Uber and other ride-hailing apps are holding up around the world

The drivers are able to trigger the surge pricing by turning their apps off and on again simultaneously. Unnamed rideshare drivers showed ABC7 how they can double a ride from $US10 to $US20 by using this technique. A number of them told ABC7 that they’d rather not artificially inflate fares, but felt forced to after years of pay cuts.

Uber was not immediately available when contacted by Business Insider, but said in a statement to Business Insider, a spokeswoman said that the company had specifically taken measures to prevent this kind of manipulation at airports.

“We have taken steps to address fraudulent behaviour at airports and, under Uber’s Community Guidelines, engaging in this behaviour may result in removal from the Uber platform. We are reviewing these allegations and will continue to prioritise efforts to prevent it from occurring.”

The spokeswoman added that because surge pricing frequently occurs at airports, it can be hard to detect if it’s being artificially influenced.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.