Uber's 'surge pricing' catches some riders off guard

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The weather can slow things down significantly in the nation's capital, and when many users of the Uber car service needed a ride this past weekend, they got a huge case of sticker shock.

It's nothing new for Uber, necessarily. Their technique of "surge pricing" - a period of time when the popular car service charges more when demand picks up - is listed clearly on their website.

With the holiday season and New Year's Eve coming up, many are wondering just how high their prices will get. It happened during the weekend snow and ice storm, when some passengers say that Uber was charging upwards of 8 times the normal fare for a ride.

"It will be pouring rain or something, and it will do (a) flash raise in prices," D.C. resident Michelle Ryngel said. "It's annoying."

Uber is not regulated by the D.C. Taxicab Commission, and the D.C. Council has granted it the right to raise prices under certain circumstances. A spokesperson for the Council committee that overses Uber says they're not doing anything wrong.

What more, they say that they've received no complaints. However, on the street, the complaints about Uber's perceived price gouging are loud and clear.

"From here to Adams Morgan is about $7, and all of a sudden it will turn into a $20 trip," District resident Michelle McIlwain said.

However, some see it as just another example of supply and demand.

"This is what you naturally expect when it comes to other factors, like snow storms," D.C. resident Arthur Gordon said.