Imagine a world where the cost of a drug surges, when patients suffering from a potentially deadly virus need it the most. Or a scenario where call charges surge for people affected from an earthquake, calling to reach out to their families. Sounds too fictitious? During the 2014 hostage crisis in Sydney, when people were fleeing for safety, Uber raised its prices as a response to higher demand.
No thanks, we would much rather live in a world which has value for human needs and lives. The surge pricing for on-demand taxi services has been a big bane for customers who us the facilities on a daily or a frequent basis. Karnataka has shown the way forward, on the crisis of surge. As a temporary agreement valid for three weeks, the aggregators have suspended surge pricing in Karnataka in return for which the government will not impound the company’s cabs.
While operators claim that surge pricing makes the service smoother, and that prices help aggregate preferences, this only applies if there is fair competition. With the heavy traffic making it impossible for commuters to use their own cars as a viable option of commuting, taxi is more of a resort. Charging customers more for travel on a rainy day, when there is least room for choice, is akin to predatory behavior. Hopefully other states will take a cue and protect consumer rights in a similar manner.