Cab-ordering firm Uber has been criticised for increasing fares by up to four times normal rates during the hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia.
As the police cordoned off a wide area around the Lindt cafe where a gunman is holding staff and customers hostage, Uber’s pricing algorithm responded to a surge in demand by raising prices.
Uber has responded to the criticism by offering free journeys out of the city’s central business district (CBD).
It has also refunded some passengers.
But the rapidly expanding cab firm also tweeted that higher rates were still in place “to encourage drivers to get into the CBD”.
In a blogpost on Sunday, Uber explained that “surge pricing is used to encourage more drivers to come online and pick up passengers from the area.”
Uber has been tweeting its free ride policy throaughout Monday
Twitter users had accused the firm of exploiting a potential terrorist situation for its own financial gain.
Minimum fares rose to A$100 (£53) at one point with one customer telling tech news site Mashable he’d been quoted A$145-185 for a journey from Sydney’s CBD to the airport – a 13-mile journey that would normally cost about A$40-70 depending on the time of day.
Another customer said this was “almost price gouging at its worst”.
This is the latest in a run of negative news stories for Uber.
Taxi drivers in France have been blocking some roads around Paris and at airports in a protest against the firm.
Monday’s demonstration came as France’s Interior Ministry said it would ban UberPop, the company’s car-pooling service, from 1 January.