Uber taxi app criticised for charging ‘ridiculous’ fare from Southsea to Purbrook

Debbie Wilkinson, who was astonished that she was charged almost �50 by Uber for a cab home  
Picture: Malcolm Wells (161025-2790)
Debbie Wilkinson, who was astonished that she was charged almost �50 by Uber for a cab home Picture: Malcolm Wells (161025-2790)

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A WOMAN has blacklisted a taxi service after it charged her nearly £50 for an eight-mile ride home.

Debbie Wilkinson, from Purbrook, ordered an Uber home to Stakes Road after a friend’s hen party on Palmerston Road in Southsea at around midnight.

But she was shocked to find a receipt for £49.61 in her email inbox the next day.

The hairdresser admits that she had accepted the higher fare, which is implemented to meet demand at peak travel times, without checking the fare estimate given on the app before a request is made.

She said: ‘I use the app because it makes me feel safer when my husband’s not around. You can see the driver’s face on the app, and you don’t feel so scared.’

‘I knew they do surge pricing but that was ridiculous.’

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HOW UBER WORKS

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The cashless service was launched in Portsmouth last year following its global success. Debbie said that she had used the app at similar times before, but had never faced fares above £15.

She said: ‘When I looked at my emails the next day, I nearly fainted.’

Debbie says that Uber refused to reverse the charge as she accepted the fare surge.

The service eventually refunded Debbie £35 as a ‘one-off goodwill gesture’, but the grandmother said that her trust is permanently damaged.

She said: ‘I won’t be using them again, I’ve already deleted the app. Quite a lot of friends have said that they won’t use it again either.’

Portsmouth cab company City Wide Taxis estimated that a journey from Palmerston Road to Stakes Road at midnight would cost £19. AquaCars’ quote is lower at £12 for the journey.

An Uber spokesperson said: ‘Uber uses dynamic pricing to ensure that people can always get a car when they want one.

‘The fare increases only in response to real-time demand when there are not enough available cars in the area.

‘All licensed drivers that use the Uber app do so completely flexibly, so higher fares encourage more drivers to come online and drive.

‘When this increased demand is met the price decreases. We make the pricing very clear in the app and riders are notified if ‘surge pricing’ is in effect. Riders can always get a fare estimate in the app before booking.’