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Uber's Infamous Surge Pricing Comes to UberEats

Brace for $30 bagel sandwiches, probably

Uber Eats

As any frequent Uber user knows, surge pricing can be a real pain. On holidays like Halloween or New Year’s Eve, when it’s raining, or when, say, a major sporting event is going on, demand for car service spikes, and prices rise accordingly in order to encourage more drivers to get on the road — sometimes as much as twelve times the normal rate.

Now, Uber’s surge pricing is bleeding over into its food delivery business. Today the company announced in a blog post that surge pricing is coming to UberEats — or, as Uber phrased it, “we’re asking UberEATS customers in select cities to pay more for delivery when they order from restaurants in areas where demand is high but delivery partners are scarce.” (Eater has reached out for clarification on which “select cities” will be affected.)

At least the app won’t be sneaky about it, though: As it does when users are preparing to hail what could be a rather pricy ride, UberEats will make it crystal-clear exactly how much hungry customers are about to shell out for that sashimi delivery: “An arrow below the restaurant name will notify users about the additional fee. The exact amount appears above the menu, and as a separate line item before checkout and on the order receipt.”

Nonetheless, some of us will inevitably wake up hungover in a pile of pad thai with an email receipt revealing a regrettable $85 late-night food delivery. Such are the perils of modern life.

And UberEats’ introduction of surge pricing was hardly unforeseen: Rising wages across the country mean food delivery companies need to increase revenue somehow, and restaurants are already charged hefty fees to have their food delivered. Meanwhile, competitors including Postmates (which calls it “blitz pricing”) have utilized surge pricing for a couple of years already.

Delivery at Uber Speed, Even When It’s Busy [Uber Newsroom]
Why Surge Pricing Could Hit Food Delivery Apps Next [E]
More Delivery Coverage [E]