Friday, May 24, 2024

Uber Uses This Vital Information Against You To Force You To Accept Surge Pricing

Uber users are more likely to accept surge pricing if their phone is low on battery, according to a recent company study.

In an interview with NPR's Hidden Brain podcast, Uber's head of economic research, Keith Chen, revealed that riders with a smartphone that is almost running out of juice is willing to pay more for the trip than someone with an amply charged phone.

The ride-sharing app service can tell when your device is running low on battery because its app is collecting information so it can switch into power-saving mode. However, Chen assures that Uber would never use the personal data of customers to raise fees.

"We absolutely don't use that to kind of like push you a higher surge price, but it's an interesting kind of psychological fact of human behavior," Chen, a behavioral economist at UCLA, told NPR.

The app's surge pricing uses a complex algorithm that determines how many users are requesting Uber rides in an area at any given time, Mashable noted. Customers are less likely to believe that when the multiplier is a round number, such as 2.0 or 3.0.

"One of the strongest predictors of whether or not you are going to be sensitive to surge-in other words, whether or not you are going to kind of say, oh, [fares are] 2.2, 2.3 [times higher than usual], I'll give it 10 to 15 minutes to see if surge goes away-is how much battery you have left on your cell phone," Chen explained.

Surge price increases as much as 9.9 times the company's normal price.

"This basic question of how psychologically painful the experience of paying a price is something I worry about every day," Chen said.

Uber's infamous surge pricing feature has been the subject of scrutiny in the past for increasing prices during mass emergencies. In 2014, the company apologized for gouging people who were trying to escape during the hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia.

"The only way to get everyone who lives in a dense part of a city a car within five minutes was to do that through dynamic pricing," Chen asserted.

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