In 2014, Uber signed an agreement with the New York attorney general's office that prohibited the company from jacking up prices during natural disasters like "civil disorder" and "convulsion of nature," but it left out New York City's hottest natural disaster: New Year's Eve. Today is the dawn of another new year, so naturally lots of people posted apocalyptic screenshots of their $200 and $300 Uber rides after getting dinged by surge pricing up to nearly 10 times the base fare. Every time this happens the outrage spreads everywhere, with people threatening to uninstall the Uber app, even though before they got charged they literally had to type the surge price into a box to acknowledge the fact they would be spending a lot more money than usual.
There are lots of reasons to be skeptical of Uber's relentless march on governments and taxi regulations everywhere, but surge pricing isn't really one of them anymore. For one thing, as The Awl pointed out earlier this month, surge pricing is one of Uber's most transparent policies, and it's already regulated — that New York state agreement actually applies across the whole country. Getting drunk on a holiday and refusing to use public transportation or cheaper taxi services is not an emergency.
Most people didn't have to pay surge pricing at all last night
It also seems like Uber's surge wasn't really too bad this year, despite what you might think from reading mini horror stories in embedded tweets. An Uber spokesperson told The Verge that most trips surrounding New Year's Eve partying — around 60 percent — had no surge at all. And of the surge prices accepted by riders, about 84 percent were less than 3x the normal fare. Yes, 3x might still be outrageous for a lot of people, but then, even the regular Uber fare is more than a lot of people can afford.
The moral of the story is that you shouldn't pay for rides you can't afford and then complain about it on Twitter. Sooner or later people will start questioning your judgement, not Uber's.