updated - October 24, 2020 Saturday EDT
For a brief moment Monday, Uber fares in Sydney, Australia rose from the normal minimum rate of $25 to $100.
Uber said in a statement, three hours after news broke out, that the increased price is an incentive to drivers to pick up people fleeing the hostage-taking area in Australia's largest city.
On Monday, Dec. 15, an Iranian refugee identified as Man Haron Monis held 17 hostages in a Lindt Chocolate cafe in Sydney. Three people died from the 16-hour ordeal, including the hostage-taker.
Following numerous criticisms on social media, the ride-sharing app backtracked and offered free ride instead for people around the area. Individuals called out to the company, saying they are taking advantage of a horrific situation by raising the fare.
After Mashable first reported about the increased price, the company tweeted a couple of times saying that people can hail free ride from Uber drivers. However, the drivers will still receive the full compensation.
Uber rides out of the CBD today are free for all riders to help Sydneysiders get home safely. See http://t.co/UIwoom25Bm for more info.
— Uber Sydney (@Uber_Sydney) December 15, 2014
Uber replied to one Twitter user, saying the price increase is automated and depends on the demand of customers in the area. Once they noticed what's happening, they stepped up and offered the free rides.
“We are in the process of refunding rides. If you have been charged during these hours leaving the CBD please email firstname.lastname@example.org,” said Uber in a statement posted on the official blog.
They set a maximum number of one ride per person and clarified that the price increase was to encourage drivers to pick up riders in the area.
The issue adds up to the numerous complaints against Uber. France joins a number of countries and cities banning the ride-sharing app, prohibiting the operations starting next year.
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