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Weekend Recap: Lyft and Uber Halloween Outage and Surge

Weekend Recap: Lyft and Uber Halloween Outage and Surge Pricing and Hourly Guarantees

So a lot happened this weekend, and it started on Thursday when Lyft brought back hourly guarantees for the first time in over six months. Lyft used to guarantee minimum earnings for all hours ($15-$25) in new markets. They then switched many cities from being a “New City” to being a mature market and removed such guarantees but implemented Prime Time Tips. You can read more about it in this post about Lyft’s New Cities Bonus and Prime Time Tips.

Lyft matched Uber’s Hourly Guarantee in many markets on Thursday and it usually started a day early on Thursday. You can read more about Lyft’s Halloween Hourly Guarantee. The huge crux that many drivers found was that it required 2 Lyfts per whole hour, such as 6pm-7pm, or 8pm-9pm, etc with a 90% acceptance rate. With so many drivers out on the road because of the guarantee, some drivers had trouble getting two rides per hour. I barely managed two rides an hour on Thursday and did about the same on Friday. Many other drivers noted that they couldn’t get a ride in a few hours. Lyft representatives responded to say that if you have two rides for any hour during the guarantee, you will get the hourly guarantee, which is better than the win-all/lose-all proposition. Lyft says it will be paid out in the following week.

Uber then responded to Lyft’s Halloween Guarantee by extending the hours in some markets on both Friday and Saturday. Uber’s requirement is much more lenient: 1 ride per hour and 80-85% acceptance rate. Even with these requirements, I was getting about 5 rides every 2 hours, way above the 1 ride per hour limit. I even had some longer rides as well and still managed to do 2.5 rides an hour. However, Halloween night was not without a lot of drama.

Around 8:30pm EST Friday night, Uber had a worldwide outage, primarily caused by excessive demand on the East Coast (8:30pm) and in Europe (2:30am) for Halloween. There was outrage all over Twitter and Facebook, with drivers chiming in from the West Coast, East Coast and London. Uber representatives replied to my email quickly and noted that the outage won’t affect our eligibility. I will comment on this when I get my weekly summary later today.

Then later in the night around Midnight EST, Lyft had their own outage, but it lasted for two hours! They quickly posted about it in our regional lounge and noted that excessive nationwide demand caused their systems to go down. This was caused by peak demand on the East Coast (12am) and West Coast (9pm). They said that they will be crediting drivers with the guarantee for these two hours. I am unsure on how they are going to figure out how drivers were online, despite all of my attempts to sign on a few minutes after midnight. Some drivers noted that if you were online, you were stuck in this grey area where you would get requests but can’t accept them. Drivers who were trying to sign online couldn’t and I fell into this second category. I will find out more later this week.

Uber noted that they had record demand over this Halloween and this lead to record surge pricing. Many Uber Twitter users posted their large Uber bills Saturday night. When you searched for Uber on Twitter, all you would see were negative comments about surge pricing. I was shocked at the number of tweets about it and also surprised that some people had rides that had a surge pricing of 9x. I am even more surprised that people actually accepted the fare to be 9x the normal fare. A $10 trip down the block quickly turns into a $100. What are they thinking?! Many of those rides were long rides as well, so it got a Denver Uber users a $500 bill.

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