(NewsUSA) – If you were some innocent fleeing a terrorist attack, would you expect to be charged four times the normal cost of a car ride?
Alas, that’s what happened to some Uber passengers last December when the “off the charts” demand for a quick escape from anywhere near the 16-hour siege at Sydney, Australia’s Lindt Chocolate Café automatically triggered the controversial “surge-pricing” that Uber and other ride-booking services also employ here in the U.S.
Even some of the app-based companies’ (former) biggest fans say that’s just a fancy term for price gouging. “#Neverforget, #neveragain,” read the hashtags celeb Jessica Seinfeld used in Instagramming a receipt for a whopping $ 415 Uber fare during a recent New York snowstorm. And so many lawmakers across the nation have their own pro-consumer reasons for wanting to crack down on the industry — lesser players include Lyft and Sidecar — that you’d almost think the very idea of summoning a ride on a smartphone was Evil Incarnate.
It’s your call, but here’s what you should know before booking one of those cars:
* Your driver may not have been thoroughly screened. Newspapers have reported numerous cases of ride-booking drivers arrested for allegedly raping or assaulting passengers. But efforts to subject the newbies to the same rigorous background checks as taxi and limousine drivers — akin to a “Not Welcome” sign for lowlifes — have been fought by all three services.
“Background screening is a public safety issue,” says Gary Buffo, president of the National Limousine Association (www.limo.org). “Competition is a good thing, but everyone needs to play by the same rules.”
Uber, for one, has touted what it calls its “industry-leading (vetting) standards.” But that claim took a hit last December when prosecutors in California alleged, as part of a consumer protection lawsuit against the company, that their drivers weren’t being fingerprinted — thus making its criminal checks “completely worthless.”
* Good luck suing if you’re injured. Some ride-booking services allow drivers to carry personal, rather than commercial, insurance. (Hey, they use their own cars.) Testifying at a recent City Council hearing in Buffalo, New York, Kristina Baldwin, of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, called that a “serious insurance gap.”
* Surge pricing can be a shocker. Uber did reimburse Sydney riders after getting skewered by the media. But New Year’s Eve revelers in New York City, learning a lesson in supply and demand, apparently had no such luck. “The most expensive eight minutes of my life,” the New York Daily News quoted one angry passenger.
original post by http://www.newsusa.com/articles/article/3-things-to-know-before-ride-booking-a-car.aspx at NewsUSA Travel