In 2010, as its first New Year’s as a company approached, the car-service-on-demand app Uber warned users that because of “huge demand … there is a run on available cars in the city and a resulting severe supply shortage. This causes the available cars to be significantly PRICIER than on a normal Friday night.” Three years later, the only thing that’s changed is that the app is more popular in more places. Expect more complaining.
Uber’s surge-pricing model — which multiplies fares during times of high demand to get more drivers on the road — got its loudest backlash yet during a snowy night in the city earlier this month, resulting in a fair amount of whining from users and some some questionable customer service from frustrated CEO Travis Kalanick. (See: “The Uber Hangover.”)
If Kalanick sounded sick of explaining himself, it’s because he’s been through this before: The same thing happens, to varying degrees, on every single night people want to go out and get drunk in large groups (NYE, Halloween, Friday, Saturday …) and every year, the company explains its free-market philosophy, which it has no intention of changing.
With Uber now international, Kalanick has taken a deep breath and yet again detailed what’s going to happen tomorrow, this time in the above video and an accompanying blog post, which includes a handy, undulating chart estimating the times prices will be highest. “If you can wait till three, it’s gonna go well,” says Kalanick. “If you absolutely need a ride between 1 and 3 a.m., Uber will be very reliable, but it will be a pricey ride and you just have to expect that.” You can also expect regular cabs to be like unicorns (impossible to find) and the subway to be filled with wasted morons (and puke puddles), so impatient people with disposable incomes will continue to pony up — and probably tweet about it.