Uber, the online cab booking firm, apologized for hiking its fares by up to four times its normal rate during the hostage crisis at a Sydney café last week. In a statement released Tuesday, the company said that it was “truly sorry” for its actions during the crisis in Sydney.
Uber had come under severe criticism last week when it increased fares following a spike in demand for trips out of Sydney’s Central Business District during the 16-hour siege. It later tried to assuage angry customers who accused it of exploiting a terrorist attack for financial gain by offering free rides out of the area.
“Surge pricing is algorithmic and kicks in automatically when demand for rides outstrips the supply of cars that are on the road ... as an increasing number of people were requesting rides that morning in the CBD (Central Business District), surge pricing came into effect automatically,” Uber said, in the statement. “We didn’t stop surge pricing immediately. This was the wrong decision.”
The company also said that all those who had been charged a higher fare had been refunded. “It’s unfortunate that the perception is that Uber did something against the interests of the public. We certainly did not intend to,” the company said.
Earlier in July, Uber’s parent company in the U.S. had announced that it had reached an agreement with authorities to cap fares during natural disasters and emergencies in New York State to prevent price gouging, according to media reports. However, as of now, the company has not signed a similar agreement in any other country it operates in.