Uber has been a long defendant of its surge pricing policy despite frequent backlashes from people and authorities alike. In what appears to be a clever move, Uber would no longer be showing those irritating 1.1X, 2.2X surge pricing popups. Instead, it will directly show ride charges to users, known as upfront fares.
So, riders won’t have to calculate end price mentally (and perhaps won’t even know if they are paying surge price).
Uber has apparently got the idea of this feature by its UberPool service. The ride pooling service shows the exact charges to users while they are booking a ride with the app. The company says that UberPool has been quite popular among people globally. And while it of course can be attributed to it being less-expensive, Uber feels, that this implies people prefer knowing prices directly instead of doing calculations, especially in the case of surge pricing.
Its like airfares and hotel prices. They go up all the time, you just aren’t popped up with multipliers which leave it up to your brain’s arithmetic abilities to calculate the prices. You still end up paying huge amounts, its just that you get to know it beforehand.
Uber product managers Arundhati Singh andDennis Zhao wrote in the announcement,
Knowing how much a ride will cost in advance is clearly something riders appreciate: today uberPOOL accounts for over 20 percent of all rides globally. And we now want more riders globally to benefit from this feature.
And how will Uber calculate the fare in advance, you ask? It will calculate upfront fares using the expected time and distance of the trip and local traffic. It also added that fares will also depend on how many riders and nearby drivers are using Uber at that moment (sounds familiar, doesn’t it? ).
Uber says, that it had already begun introducing upfront fares in April for regular uberX trips in cities across the US and more recently in India. It says that hundreds of thousands of riders have already experienced upfront fares as part of this rollout.
So surge pricing or not?
If you are wondering if Uber is scrapping surge pricing altogether, then a more logical question would be this — will riders ever know if surge pricing is applicable on their trip or not ? Because if you look at the company’s statement, it clearly mentions, that when fares go up due to increased demand, instead of surge lightning bolts and pop-up screens, riders are given the actual fare before they request their ride.
There’s no complicated math and no surprises: passengers can just sit back and enjoy the ride,
But it does not mention whether riders will be notified if they are about to pay surge charges. Because if this is purely a mathematical benefit without telling them about the surge, it is highly doubtful if passengers would find the experience enjoyable after the ride. Why? Because you’ll still end up paying ridiculous amount of money, just that you’ll now know of it.
And of course, Uber may receive an even more severe backlash for hiding extra charges. The company has a history of getting into trouble with regulators and authorities, particularly in India. And in addition to license and other troubles, it has always come under the scrutiny for its dynamic pricing algorithm leading to surge prices.