ABC7 news station in Arlington, Virginia, released a special report in May on how local uber drivers manipulated the Uber app while they were near Reagan National Airport to artificially create "surge pricing" events – where rate for one rideshare spontaneously rises due to lack of supply of drivers. Now another report released this week claims that several drivers from across the country have come forward to share similar stories of organized rideshare price manipulation.
The reports explain that drivers are manipulating ticket prices by turning off their rideshare apps at the same time – a collective effort that reduces supply when airport demand is high. When the apps turn on again, drivers get a price increase on rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. Drivers say they can do this right by knowing when the aircraft arrive, according to reports.
ABC7 says drivers they talked to public revealed the technique for the first time; According to the new report, others are driving around the country upset, the secret is out. In a Uber driver thread on Reddit, commentators say "Surge Club" is like "Fight Club", meaning the first rule is that you are not talking about it.
Uber sent ABC7 a statement stating that "they have taken steps to deal with false behavior … engaging in this behavior can lead to removal." The company said it can also be difficult to decipher what is a natural price increase and one manipulated one.
There is, of course, an ironic in Uber's words: Usually, the company and its opaque algorithms control how much drivers are paid and how often a wave will occur and the company can manipulate its own rules as much as it wants ̵[ads1]1; but it gets angry when drivers, the company's backbone, try to do the same on their own terms through a solidarity act.
It is unclear where else this happens, but ABC7 said they had found no evidence that it was happening at the other two major airports in the DC area, Dulles International Airport and Balt
Some experts tell Salon, such an idea is not so surprising, considering how little the drivers do.
"Although it is difficult to prove that drivers gently manipulate the app to enjoy price increases, it is not surprising that they would," said Maria Figueroa, Director of Labor and Politics Research at the Worker Institute at Cornell's ILR School, to Salon via e-mail "Based on findings from our research on platform drivers in New York, the apprentice is not high enough for drivers to earn sufficient earnings after covering all their expenses."
Figueroa said that lack of transparency is one of The biggest complaints from drivers, who sometimes claim that the companies Uber and Lyft can manipulate the platform to reduce driver's pay.
"It is possible to manipulate the app to trigger brake rates," Figueroa said. "Surge pricing occurs when driver supply is low or when the demand for rides is very high. So workers can reduce the supply of drivers by turning off the apps. When surge pricing is triggered, they can turn it on again. "
Moira Muntz, a spokeswoman for The Independent Drivers Guild, tells Salon the bigger picture is that drivers are not paid enough.
" Driving across the country is struggling with wages that are often below minimum wage while app companies demand as much as they want and pockets the difference, Muntz says. "App-based drivers in Washington DC make as little as $ 5 per hour, far less than the minimum wage."
Muntz said these companies often overload riders, underpay drivers, and pocketing the difference.
"They are recovering the hard earned money out of our communities for the benefit of wealthy investors," says Muntz. "Drivers and riders must organize together to win the legislation to make this industry fair to everyone by demanding reasonable pay for drivers and capping app commission charged to riders. "