Uber’s “unfair” fare review system

Yesterday, I visited Delhi for a business meeting. It was a quick and short tour.

  1. Take early morning flight from Pune to Delhi.
  2. From Delhi Airport, take a cab to Fortis Hospital, Vasantkunj (meeting destination).
  3. Client meeting.
  4. Take a cab from Fortis Hospital, Vasantkunj to Delhi Airport.
  5. Take an evening flight from Delhi to Pune.

My flight was from Delhi Airport – Terminal 1D.

Google Maps Data

Let’s calculate the distance on Google Maps first.

From Delhi Airport to Fortis Hospital, Vasantkunj – 9.6km 

From-Delhi-Airport-to-Fortis-Hospital-Vasantkunj-10am

From Fortis Hospital, Vasantkunj to Delhi Airport – 9.7km

From-Fortis-Hospital-Vasantkunj-to-Delhi-Airport

On my way back, 100 meter extra could be difference in arrival and departure routes in airport vicinity.

Google Maps also shows, 4PM travel time will be slightly lower than 10AM travel time. This has to be common sense also as 10AM is peak office hour on a weekday while 4PM is off time!

Uber Ripoff in action

Let’s see what Uber did!

From Delhi Airport to Fortis Hospital, Vasantkunj – 9.14km 

This is cool. As you can see there is shortcut. But it was very bad road and did not save any time.

From-Delhi-Airport-to-Fortis-Hospital-Vasantkunj-Uber

From Fortis Hospital, Vasantkunj to Delhi Airport – 15.47km

This is more than 6km extra!

From-Fortis-Hospital-Vasantkunj-to-Delhi-Airport-Uber

As you can see in above screenshot, I already set correct destination for Terminal 1D. I also asked for same destination to driver when I sat in cab. Driver also confirmed same.

It’s halfway during ride, I realised driver took wrong route so I asked him to correct as I was already short on time for my return flight.

The drive first tried to argue that I asked to drop on international airport, then I took his mobile and showed my destination as appearing in his Uber app. He realised his mistake and said he did not know how to use Uber app!

I should have guessed that a Uber driver doesn’t know Uber app, as he asked me to help him “start the trip” in his Uber app.

I think Uber driver app has some recent update where some interface changes were added. Because driver of morning Uber ride also complained same! Though the driver in morning managed to start the trip on his own.

Anyway, as driver on second drip realised his mistake, he asked me to talk to Uber support to get fare corrected at the time of dropping off. He also apologised for delay!

Uber’s “unfair” fare review!

Immediately after getting through security check, I requested a fare review via Uber support option in Uber mobile app. Within 2 minutes, my fare was reviewed and my account was credited for Rs. 20!

Am I happy? Certainly not.

It is a common sense that for a distance travelled in off-peak hour, cost should be less or equal to similar distance travelled in peak hour.

Uber support couldn’t understand this simple logic and gave me some bullshit reason called “dynamic pricing”.

I always check fare estimate before each ride so I was aware that estimated was same. In fact estimated for return cab was Rs. 1 or 2 less.

It was obvious that he is not good at support or Uber is not good at many things!

The quick turnaround of fare review felt like an automated correction. Something to “wow” customer with quick but wrong action.

Uber fare breakdown

If you compare fare breakdown for two rides details above screenshot, you can see, Uber fare has three components:

  • Base Fare: Always 40
  • Distance: Rs. 7 per km ( 108.33 / 15.47 ) and (64.01 / 9.14 ) yields same
  • Time: Rs. 1 per minute

That means the reason given by Uber support about “dynamic pricing” was crap. Also, when Uber charges extra, it reflects in receipt as you can see below in a screenshot from my first Uber trip!

Uber-surge-pricing

So how much is overcharge?

As base fare and rate per km were same, the first part of overcharge is distance difference. i.e.  Rs. 44.32 (108.33 – 64.01)

But then for longer route, I had to spend more time. Direct time difference is Rs. 7.2 (27.70 – 20.50)

But time taken for a ride is depends on distance as well as traffic.

Luckily longer ride was in off-peak hour so if I had to travel same distance, then real time might have been less. With this logical reason, I have a mathematical support as well:

  • During peak hours: 20.50 mins / 9.14 km = 2.24 mins per km
  • During off-peak hours: 27.70 mins / 15.47 km = 1.79 mins per km

As you can see I needed only 1.79 mins for 1 km at 4PM. So my ride time would have been around:

9.14 km + (100m extra per google map data) = 9.24 km
9.24 km * 1.79 mins per km = 16.54 mins.

This increases my loss by Rs. 3.96 more! 😀

So total overcharge:

Rs. 44.32 + Rs. 7.2 + Rs. 3.96 = Rs. 55.58

Instead of reviewing fare by at least Rs. 50, Uber reduced Rs. 20.78!

Summary

At this point, you may be wondering, I must be a fool to spend so much time with Uber support and writing this post for a loss of Rs. 30!

Well that is not the point. My total trip cost was almost Rs. 11000. So Rs. 30 is less than 1% of total cost. Also Uber offered me Rs. 300 off on first ride, so they still have Rs. 270 on me. This is NOT about money. 

Few days back me and Mahangu were discussing how companies like Uber are not doing enough for drivers. Our point of discussion was English-only interface of Uber app for drivers.

Yesterday, I got to know that the company, atleast its Indian subsidiary is morally corrupt and greedy. If Uber doesn’t have customer support with little common sense, it will be too much to expect better education to driver’s from them.

It hurts to see companies going greedy like this. So Uber is over for me.

I will try Ola for next ride! Or something else!