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Baltimore woman crowdfunds $362 Uber ride, shitstorm ensues

A Baltimore writer got an unwelcome birthday present from the service.

A Baltimore woman racked up a hefty bill taking Uber on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy of Uber)

On Halloween (after last call on Nov. 1, to be exact), City Paper contributor Gabrielle Walthen took a 20-minute Uber ride. What she got was more than she bargained for, literally.
With surge pricing in place, the ride ran her more than $360, leading her to start a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $500 before it was shut down and the Instagram post about the ride deleted, Business Insider reported.
“I checked my bank account to, unbeknownst to me, I see a charge for $362. Not only is it my 26th birthday, it is rent day,” she wrote, according to the website. “My rent is $450 and I can no longer pay it today due to this completely outrageous charge.”
In a piece in this week’s City Paper, Walthen writes about the ride, the fundraising campaign and the uproar that ensued.

Approving a nine-times fare increase without realizing it is completely my fault, I understand that. The GoFundMe page was made in a very playful manner after a couple of my friends told me they would donate if I made it, in an attempt to brighten my birthday after seeing how upset I was. I’m no stranger to how the internet works, but this was never intended to go viral or garner sympathy from the general public. Almost every single one of the donations I received was directly from my close friends and family (yes, even the $220 anonymous donation, which was from my Uncle John).
I never thought I would come anywhere close to reaching the goal, much less surpass it. When I woke up the next morning and saw that I had over $500 in donations, I was truly shocked, and unbelievably thankful to have such amazing friends and family. I never thought this would be a story that would go viral and end up on Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Jezebel, E! News, and plenty of other blogs, nor did I think I would be fielding calls for comment from CBS, ABC, and local radio stations. I declined to comment to all of these places throughout the very interesting day because I’m a writer myself and I figure if all those people are dying to know what I have to say so badly, then I may as well tell them on my own terms.

Walthen wrote that she requested an UberBLACK, which she acknowledged is more expensive than the UberX service, and understands that Uber has surge pricing to encourage more drivers to help meet demand. Still, she wrote that a $362 bill is nevertheless outrageous.
Read the full story
Walthen isn’t the only Uber customer faced with Halloween sticker shock. In Colorado, a rider racked up a bill of over $500 on a 20-mile ride, the New York Daily News reported.
“Surge pricing allows us to remain reliable, even on one of the busiest nights of the year,” Uber officials warned riders in a pre-Halloween blog post. “Our rates will float in real time with fluctuations in supply and demand. Increased rates incentivize more driver partners to get on the roads and ensure those who need a ride won’t be left stranded.”

Companies: Uber

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