When rideshare giant Uber first launched in Australia in 2012, it was met with enthusiasm from customers who had grown tired of long waits and no-shows from taxis.
Ten years on, frustration is growing among Uber customers with very similar complaints.
Uber drivers say rising fuel costs are to blame, while the company cites increased demand as travellers return to pre-pandemic habits.
Leigh Macey is a regular Uber rider in Cairns, but she said the increase in cancellations was putting her off wanting to go out for a drink.
“It’s a s**t fight to try and get home,” she said.
“When you’re out and you want to go home, you want to go home — not two hours later.
“If you get a driver who actually turns up without cancelling it’s like winning lotto.”
Ms Macey said the service in Cairns had worsened over the past few months.
“I’ve even had Uber drivers call me and ask me to cancel so that they wouldn’t lose their ratings,” she said.
Ms Macey has another concern about the high rate of Uber cancellations.
And it’s not confined to the state’s far north.
Customer Ineke McMahon said she regularly caught Ubers from Brisbane city to her house at Holland Park West.
“It’s a nightmare anytime from 5pm until 6pm,” Ms McMahon said.
“I have started messaging the drivers and asking them to please not cancel and offering a cash tip if they don’t cancel.”
Drivers say it is not their fault
The secretary of the Rideshare Drivers Association of Australia (RSDAA), Les Johnson, said increased fuel prices were having a flow-on effect on bookings.
“Back when we started the RSDAA, fuel was around $1 a litre and we were getting about $1.45 a kilometre paid to us by Uber,” Mr Johnson said.
“Since then, there has only been a couple of marginal increases and fuel is now over $2 per litre.
“Sometimes we will get offered a job that can be 15 to 20 minutes away and then when you get there it’s only a five-minute trip.
“That’s why the number of cancellations is going up.”
Tourist Sharon Barnes, who was visiting Cairns from Melbourne, said she could not believe how bad the Uber situation was in Far North Queensland.
“I’m up here for 10 days and I’ve found that Uber drivers are cancelling if you’re not wanting a lift in the CBD,” she said.
“They don’t want to travel the extra couple kilometres for the same money. It makes it a pain when you’re staying just out of town.”
Increased demand partly to blame
Demand for Uber trips in Queensland had increased by 40 per cent since the start of the year, according to Uber, as “Queenslanders get back to pre-pandemic patterns of travel”.
“We are conscious of the impact increased demand has on the rider experience, and we’re focused on doing more to make sure the platform can meet rider expectations,” an Uber company spokesperson said.
“We’re also proactively letting driver-partners know about the negative impact cancellations can have on the experience of riders and other driver-partners.
“Queensland driver-partners can see the rider’s trip fare before the trip starts, as required by state regulations.”
Uber was not able to provide the ABC with any data on the number of cancelled trips by drivers over the past 12 months.
Extracted in full from: Uber drivers blame rising fuel costs, more customers for cancelling rides – ABC News