Economy

Uber-crafty drivers log off to make fares go up

Uber-crafty drivers log off to make fares go up”

But the study stopped short of blaming the drivers themselves for the situation, instead pointing the finger at Uber and their system of management by algorithms rather than people.

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.

That's when Uber's automated system triggers what the company calls "surge" pricing, driving up its standard fares by 20%, 50% or even 100% or more to attract more of its contract-drivers on to the road.

A conversation, which was cited from the forum by the researchers, showed a London-based driver saying: "Guys, stay logged off until surge".

On some occasions, the price of a journey can cost several times the normal fare when there is a surge.

A second driver replied: "Why?" to which the original poster replied: "Less supply high demand = surge".

The study was based on interviews of Uber drivers in London and NY and an analysis of over 1000 posts on UberPeople.net, a site which "is in no way affiliated with Uber" and is used as a forum by its drivers to swap experiences and advice.

The driver added "it happens every week".

The team of academics, from Warwick Business School in Coventry and New York University, said the drivers' behaviour could be understood as a response to Uber's "management by algorithm".

They say they discovered that some Uber drivers were playing the company's algorithms.

"Drivers have developed practices to regain control, even gaming the system", said Dr Mareike Möhlmann, co-author of the study and assistant professor at Warwick Business School.

The authors of the research said drivers were, "under constant surveillance through their phones".

The consensus from the researchers is that it is Uber's style of management that motivates its drivers into this behavior.

Drivers receive different commission rates and bonus targets and are left in the dark as to how these are calculated.

"The drivers have the feeling of working for a system rather than a company and have little, if any interaction with an actual Uber employee", said New York University's Dr Lior Zalmanson.



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