An investigation into fare-boosting practises by Uber drivers has been slammed by tech experts who say they are “shocked that Uber allows this to happen.”
The Daily Star Sunday found that drivers “rig” prices to inflate fares and pocket cancellation fees by not bothering to pick up clients – who then cancel the request.
Drivers admitted they were manipulating the app to boost their earnings, with one member of staff saying they worked together to push up demand and create a “surge price” where the fare can be doubled or even tripled.
“Drivers basically hack the app so their location is hidden. That means the app thinks there aren’t many cabs available in the area, so the surge price rockets. “Then they reveal their location to book a fare and wham, they get three times extra money.”
But Fareed Baloch, a taxi expert who works in technology, said the blame actually lay at the feet of Uber, who are behind the technology used by drivers and passengers.
“With the massive engineering team behind Uber’s technology, it is beyond understanding how they have left loopholes in their driver app – which is what allows this deception to happen.
“But if they are aware of the loopholes that means they must turn a blind eye to allow their drivers to benefit and of course this means Uber in turn makes more money from commissions.”
The discovery will raise questions after a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court ruled that Uber was a ‘fit and proper’ company after its managers said that “wholesale changes” had been made following Transport for London’s refusal to renew its operator license last September.
Mr Baloch said the discovery “raised yet more doubts about the decision to award Uber a license in London.”
“The short term license was granted because Uber pleaded in court that they had changed. Well, I believe that many people would question whether having a piece of technology that allows what is essentially fraud to take place makes them a ‘fit and proper company’.
“Uber has put many private hire companies out of business because consumers thought they were ‘easier’ and ‘cheaper’. I hope potential passengers now look to local, reputable companies when they need to book a vehicle.”
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