Uber Might Be Getting Kicked Out of Massachusetts
Uber's license to operate in Massachusetts is under review after the ride-sharing company charged customers surge pricing during a state of emergency declared for a nor'easter blizzard in the state earlier in 2018.
During the early March snowstorm, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency. As part of those measures, the state's Department of Public Utilities, which oversees ride-sharing operations, sent notices to all ride-sharing companies alerting them to suspend surge pricing during the storm.
Uber allegedly charged passengers surge pricing anyway. If the ride-sharing company is found to have violated the regulation, its license to operate in the state could be revoked, and it could be charged fines based on its revenue from the storm.
“The intent was to avoid circumstances where companies would be jacking up prices during a state of emergency,” Massachusetts State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, who wrote the original bill, told The Boston Herald. “The intent of the legislation was to avoid any company taking advantage of the consumer during a state of emergency.”
Now the state's Department of Public Utilities is demanding Uber's data on its fares from just before and during the nor'easter, as well as its revenue and amount of riders it had during the storm.
Uber disputes the accusations, saying its surge pricing did not violate the state law. According to Uber, the law only precludes them from raising the base rate during a state of emergency. This is a different type of surge pricing charge than how Uber calculates its surge, the company claims.
TPG reached out to Uber for comment, but did not hear back by time of publication. The ride-sharing company did, however, tell The Boston Herald that it was "confident" it complied with the law during the state of emergency. "Our team was in communication with the DPU during the state of emergency," an Uber spokesperson told the Herald. "We look forward to working with regulators on a quick resolution.”
Thursday is Uber's deadline to respond to the Massachusetts state government's request.