When a natural disaster hits, lots of things get a big shake up. Besides for the destruction and devastation that comes along with it, (which this link provides images), it creates all sorts of challenges for businesses on response and how to handle themselves during the crisis.
It’s easy as an outsider to say “just do whats good for the public and put your business plans on hold”, but we all know that is not always practical for a small business if they want to stay afloat.
It hurt me to hear that an article in Business Insider accused them or “price gouging”. In reality, what really and more likely happened was, they had to make a judgement call on what to do during the hurricane aftermath. They were put in a situation where in order to keep their business running and not lose millions of dollars during a national crisis while people needed transportation, they were forced to decide what to do with the additional costs that it would take to keep going. Rather than absorbing what would have been a tremendous sum, they passed the large expenses over to their customers citing “surge pricing” as the cause.
Obviously this did not go over well, and with a little back and forth, after losing a lot of money in the process, they are still back to charging the “surge pricing” but now warn customers they will be charged a hefty sum if they want to use the service.
What Should They Have Done?
There is no easy answer on what they should have done here, as its nearly impossible for anyone to plan for an event like this.
I for one know that here I sit in Chicago and others in different parts of the country largely unaffected by the tragedy, wishing there was something more I could do.
Others have proposed solutions for industries to pitch in and lend a hand. One such post I liked a lot was by Jon Burg as an open letter to the Auto Industry to lend a hand.
I wanted to propose a different solution which shouldn’t be a great cost to UBER, but I think they have a better infrastructure in place to help than most other companies.
Use your app to solicit donations for relief.
When anyone take a ride on UBER in any of their locations, give them the option of donating the equal amount (or another amount) to help people commute and get around. Hurricane #sandy appears to have crippled NY transportation, so why not help people commute and bring back any sort of normalcy they can as part of the relief effort. . And for you , its that simple since you already have the app. It would help the residents, potentially help offset some of your costs, and certainly raise your name in the eyes of the public.
I for one know I would be donating.