Uber’s Latest Change Makes It Impossible to See Surge Pricing

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An Uber exec recently disclosed that the company knows when you are more likely to pay surge pricing. (It’s when your phone battery is just about to die.) But with a potential app change Uber is rolling out, this might not matter, because you probably won’t notice that surge is even in effect.

The app change, The Verge reports, would eliminate the blue-and-black circle that pops up before you hail a ride, letting you know that your trip will cost you two or three times what it usually does. On that screen, users also have to manually input the surge percentage, a sort of formal acknowledgement they know the ride will cost extra. (Like guac.)

Instead, now when you order a ride, you’ll see a set fare, a small line of text letting you know there’s an additional cost, and no second confirmation or indication of the surge multiplier.

From The Verge:

Instead of an in-your-face, blue-font-in-a-black-circle notification, the updated version of the app warns riders with a line of faint text about “increased demand” located under the fare. Other than that, surge pricing is MIA.

On its blog, Uber compares the current model, with its informative surge pop-up, as akin to “buying an airline ticket without knowing the full fare until the end of your trip. Or booking a hotel room online and being told that the real price would be 1.3X.” Except the price of airline tickets and hotel rooms don’t drop if the rain stops or you wait another ten minutes and try again. Uber prices, however, do. (Prices start to drop after enough people decide the surge is too pricey and stop requesting cars, driving demand, and fares, down.) Reducing the likelihood that users will even notice they are paying more for their ride makes this an excellent move for Uber’s bottom line. But not a great move for yours.