UPDATE: Uber spokesperson Katie Curran sent a statement about the company's response. It can be read below.

Ridesharing service Uber is facing some controversy in Australia after implementing its so-called 'surge pricing' during the just-ended hostage crisis in a Sydney cafe. The flood of people trying to leave the area during the standoff reportedly triggered higher fares for the ridesharing service, but the company later canceled them.

According to Mashable, some people in the area reported the service showing demand four times higher than normal at one point during the crisis. It caused the minimum price for a ride out of the area to rise to $100 Australian dollars ($82 US).

Uber says it has since rectified the issue. In a post on its blog, the company announced that rides leaving the area would be free of charge for people to "get home safely." Anyone who paid the higher fares can contact the business for a refund.

Importantly, Uber's blog post doesn't deny that the surge pricing happened. A tweet from the company claims that fares increased as a mechanism to encourage more drivers to head toward the area. Less than an hour later, it issued a second tweet announcing the free rides.

According to BBC News, Australian military personnel raided the cafe to end the hostage situation, but not much more has been revealed about the crisis as of this writing.
Show full PR text
Surge pricing is algorithmic and responded automatically to the large increase in demand for Uber rides out of the CBD. As soon as we became aware of the situation, we capped it and made all rides free to people leaving Sydney's CBD. Uber is paying for these rides. If riders got charged surge pricing earlier in the day, we will refund it.

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