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Tech by VICE

Uber Will Cap Surge Prices During the Epic New York City Blizzard

This storm will be the first time the company has had to cap its "dynamic pricing" in New York due to a state of emergency.

by Carl Franzen
Jan 26 2015, 7:31pm

​Image: Jason Koebler

The major blizzard bearing down on New York City and the Tri-State area today is already hampering mass transit, with subway service set to be sharply curtailed after 7 PM local time and all private vehicles temporarily banned from New York City beginning at 11 PM, under penalty of arrest. But until that time, Uber will be up and running, and the oft-criticized but undeniably useful ride hailing service swears that it won't gouge weary travelers looking for a ride through the storm.

Uber sent out the following note to its NYC customers explaining that it will cap its "dynamic pricing"—better known as "surge pricing"—at 2.8 times above normal fares, at least while the area remains in a state of emergency. 

Further, Uber explains that it will donate 20 percent of its fare totals to the Red Cross, part of a d​eal Uber reached with the New York State Attorney General's office last summer, over previous allegations that Uber was price gouging, which is of course ​illegal in New York.

And it's not just the ride-seeking public that will be keeping an eye on Uber's activities during the storm. The New York State Attorney General's office told BuzzFe​ed that it will be "monitoring all providers of essential services, including transportation, for price gouging." 

In many ways though, the real test of Uber's newfound grace will be what happens after the storm, once the state of emergency has lifted. Will prices shoot up above 2.8 times again? And if so, what will the Attorney General's office do about it, if anything?

While the cap may be a relatively new tack by Uber, a company notorious for clashing with regulators and employing sometimes deceitful marketing tactics, its worth pointing out Uber is also no ​stranger to partner​ing with charities. Which is proof that disruption doesn't always have to entail being a jerk.

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