Above normal rates were charged on New Year's Eve and early on New Year's Day - with some bills up to eight times higher than the normal fare. One customer complained that they had to hand over €166 for a 30 minute trip through Vienna's city centre.
Uber's pricing policy has been slammed by the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. “We knew this would happen. One company is bringing the entire industry into disrepute because it wants to make a quick buck and believes it can flout the rules that are there to protect customers,” said Davor Sertic, chairman of the transport and traffic section of the Chamber of Commerce.
Uber has defended itself against the accusations, saying that all its customers were informed in an email on December 30th that fares on New Year's Eve would be higher than usual at peak times.
It said that this information was also clearly available on the Uber app, and before customers booked their taxi they were asked to confirm that they were aware of the surcharge. “Once the demand subsided, the prices became lower. We feel that we gave our users sufficient information about the surge pricing,” a company spokesman said.
Some angry passengers have been talking about bringing a class action suit against Uber - but this could prove fruitless as Uber did warn passengers that journeys would cost more. Some passengers have said they are not able to remember if the app did notify them of the surcharge prior to the trip - but they may have been drunk or very tired.
To avoid a price surcharge at busy times the Vienna Chamber of Commerce recommends only using licensed Vienna city taxis, which have to comply with rules on regulated tariffs. They can be identified by the ‘TX' on their number plates.
Uber users in the US, Canada and Australia have also complained about the New Year's Eve price surge.