Sunday, 6 August 2017

Uber's drivers are gaming the system

It had to happen sooner or later. The Daily Mail reports:
Uber drivers have been accused of secretly logging out of the app to make prices soar and allow them to charge customers more money, new research suggests.
Researchers interviewed Uber drivers in London and New York and produced a study which claims staff are deliberately making the price more expensive.
It was suggested that drivers working in the same area are logging out of the mobile taxi app which will make the number of available cars drop.
This, as a result, causes a higher demand because there are less cars available and therefore a 'surge' price is introduced with fares increasing.
To be clear, Uber drivers logging out of the app doesn't "cause a higher demand", but it does decrease the observable supply of drivers, which may lead Uber to raise the price (when supply decreases, the equilibrium price is higher). Presumably, drivers can then log back into the app and reap the benefits of the higher price (until it adjusts downwards). As I noted in this 2015 post, Uber's surge pricing is working. But perhaps it is working too well?

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