Taxi firm Uber has been condemned for putting up prices in Sydney after the hostage taking, being labelled a "shameful disgrace".
Prices for fares out of the city centre more than doubled in some cases after a gunman took hostages at a Lindt cafe in the city centre.
Uber's Sydney branch insisted the prices went up to secure more drivers, saying: "We are all concerned with events in CBD (Central Business District). Fares have to encourage more drivers to come online to pick up passengers in the area".
We are all concerned with events in CBD. Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area.— Uber Sydney (@Uber_Sydney) December 15, 2014
This - and Uber's subsequent decision to offer rides for free - did little to convince people on Twitter of their good intentions.
I know how @Uber_Sydney feels. I'm in double glazing and did what I could on 9/11 by tripling prices. We all grieve in our own way.— rufus jones (@rufusjones1) December 15, 2014
@uber_sydney What a shameful disgrace.— Tyson Armstrong (@tysonarmstrong) December 15, 2014
The company said its prices were automatically tied to demand and they had later taken action to prevent this. They were forced to begin tweeting this explanation to everyone who complained.
@sheeransydney surge pricing is automated. We took action to cap surge pricing & made trips free for riders.— Uber Sydney (@Uber_Sydney) December 15, 2014
A trip from the city centre to the airport typically costs between $45 and $55 but it was costing $145 shortly after the man took his hostages, The Daily Mail reported.
In a statement posted to its website, Uber said it would refund people who had paid the higher fares.
"We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney," it said.
Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely. Our thoughts are with those affected and the NSW Police Force.
"We are in the process of refunding rides... Please note that surge pricing is used to encourage more drivers to come online and pick up passengers from the area."
One person on Twitter referred to the free rides decision as a "PR backflip".
So far, no one has been injured or killed. At this article went live, five hostages had escaped.
There were reports of others being allowed contact with their families from within the cafe.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird was asked whether the hostage taking would change the city.
He said: "No, it won't and no it shouldn't. "We are incredibly proud of this city. The values we hold dear and we will continue at every day to protect them."