Source: Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future
Published: June 2017
Tech Companies & Surging Prices
Circulated: August 27, 2019
Situation #1 — December 2014
During a terrorist attack in Sydney, those fleeing caused Uber’s surge pricing to spike. The company faced intense criticism that this was wildly inappropriate.
Uber’s statement: “We didn’t stop the surge pricing immediately, and this was the wrong decision.”
Situation #2 — November 2015
During terrorist stacks in Paris, Uber canceled surge pricing in the city within 30 minutes.
Uber’s statement: “As soon as we heard about the incident we immediately suspended dynamic pricing all around the area of the attacks… and then across central London.”
Situation #3 — September 2017
During preparations for Hurricane Irma in Florida, Amazon removed excessively priced bottled water.
Amazon’s statement: “To protect customers, we’ve removed several offers from third-party sellers that exceeded the recent average sales price.”
Examples like these show the wisdom of having human judgment and algorithms working together.