Uber claims it is still using the “official” exchange rate in Lebanon, despite a recent price hike that angered many users.
Uber has merely increased its recommended fares, an Uber spokesperson told Al Arabiya English, dismissing allegations that it has changed the exchange rate as a “perception.”
The move aims to support drivers, who have been impacted by Lebanon’s inflated currency and increased cost of living, Uber’s spokesperson said, adding that, despite the increase in recommended fares, the service fee – a commission taken by the company – remains unchanged at 25 percent.
But the app’s users now bear the cost, who must now pay as much as double previous prices.
Understandably, the overnight price jump led many to conclude that Uber had begun using a new exchange rate in the country where the official pegged exchange rate now means nothing.
Gino Raidy, a popular Lebanese blogger, suggested that the new rate was 3,900 Lebanese pounds to $1, a rate between the official and black market rate at which depositors can withdraw their cash in local currency. The currency is still technically pegged at 1,507 Lebanese pounds to $1, but inflation has meant that rate has topped 8,000 on the black market at times.
Many customers vowed to boycott the app and encouraged others to do the same.
“[Uber in Lebanon] are not taking dollars at the official exchange rate. Kindly stop using Uber. Thank you,” one Twitter user said.
Since it began working in Lebanon, Uber’s prices had been displayed on the app in US dollars, allowing customers to pay drivers in cash at the old exchange rate, which remains the official rate set by the Banque du Liban.
The decision to display prices in local currency as of last week was in order to “help maintain a smooth user experience on the app,” according to Uber’s official statement at the time.