Uber doesn't plan to get even with customers who complain about their surge pricing on New Year's Eve. But it is getting MADD.
Both Uber and its rival Lyft are partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for New Year's Eve, a move that could arguably be viewed as advancing a more positive counter-narrative to compete with what will likely be the primary discussion around the services that night: surge pricing.
Yet the programs, which offer $1-per-ride donation to MADD at night on New Year's Eve, leave something to be desired. Lyft's program, for instance, caps out at $10,000. Uber's has no stated limit, but riders have to remember to text "MADDYE" to activate the donation, a detail that many revelers may overlook.
MADD received just over $12 million in donations in 2013. Though the potential payout is small, it fits with MADD's mission to prevent drunk driving deaths.Last year, 70 people died in drunk driving accidents on New Year's Eve, according to MADD. Reps from the organization could not be reached for further comment.
While both ride-sharing services claim — with some justification — that they prevent drunk driving deaths by keeping intoxicated drivers off the road, for Uber, that claim is subsumed by customer ire over surge pricing. Uber has argued that the only way to get drivers out on New Year's Eve is to offer them multiples of what they'd make on any other night.
Lyft also rolled out its version of surge pricing called Prime Time last fall.
Surge pricing has been much less of a PR headache for Lyft, but it's still a big deal for Uber as prices that jump as much as 50 times normal fares have prompted pushback. Last year, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attempted to head off the inevitable criticism by offering guidance on when to book an Uber ride on New Year's Eve (wait two hours).
Tags: BUSINESS, LYFT, MARKETING, NEW YEARS EVE, SURGE PRICING, UBER