CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Kimberly Gaddist, who relies on Uber for a routine 18-mile trip to work was stunned Monday when she opened the app to find the price for her usual trip from Goose Creek to Charleston.
She said the app quoted her a cost between $130.50 and $228.48.
“I was like, ‘You got to be kidding me,’” Gaddist said. “I said this has got to be a mistake. I tried it again a few minutes later and it had gone down to $121. I got a little frustrated because they’re asking me to pay $121 to go down town Charleston.”
She says on a normal day the price for that tip is around $30, which is still about two hours of work for her. She takes Uber regularly because she doesn’t have a car and there is no public transportation close to her home.
Uber hit surge pricing that morning, meaning the demand for rides outpaced the number of drivers available. Uber’s website states prices go up during high demand periods to ensure those who need a ride can get one.
“I needed a ride and I did get one about an hour later with another company,” Gaddist said. “I was in a situation the other morning, but I was not going to pay them all of that money. With that money I could have probably got a plane ticket somewhere or a bus ticket to another state.”
Pressed for time, she could not wait for the normal pricing to come back. She turned to Lyft and found a cheaper alternative.
“This is total price gouging. You know people are in need,” Gaddist said.
Uber did not respond to our request for comment but in their 2020 People and Culture Report, they acknowledge dropping about a quarter of its global workforce last year. It is unclear how many of those were drivers or how many of them have been rehired in 2021.
Officials with the Charleston International Airport say they have seen a drop off in the number of Uber and Lyft drivers actively working at the airport. They say customers have reverted to taxis and other forms of transportation.