Wait. Uber Charges More When Your Battery Is Low?
Did you know that Uber charges more when your battery is low? After this person posted a shot of two phones calling an Uber at the same time from the same location but receiving different prices, the comments, of course, lit up. Some people thought it was true, some people thought it was just headline clickbait, but then we looked it up and, unfortunately, Uber does charge more when your battery is low.
Why? Because people whose batteries are low are likely to be more desperate to nab a rideshare. And, Uber’s motto is: charge them more if you think they’re willing to pay more. Of course, surge pricing—charging you more during busy transit times or in areas where there are fewer Ubers—is one of Uber’s more well-known policies.
If you travel frequently enough to have to Uber on a regular basis, then you’re probably no stranger to refreshing your Uber request to see if the price goes down, or even walking a few blocks in the other direction. But, for some reason, charging people more because their battery is low, basically profiting on your fear that you’ll be stranded in a strange place if you don’t nab your rideshare now seems extra sinister.
But, says Keith Chen, head of economic research, it’s all about, well, economics: “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, I’ll give it a 10 to 15 minutes to see if surge goes away—is how much battery you have left on your cell phone.”
Our advice? Bring a portable charger with you the next time you’re out sightseeing and likely to need an Uber, or have the person with the most battery life make the call. Or, maybe just take Lyft? We haven’t read any news about them charging more for lower battery life but we do know that Lyft doesn’t have as much reach as Uber so it’s not always an option.
For more questions about rideshare services, you can head to FlyerTalk’s helpful forum page for all conundrums Uber and Lyft, where you can ask questions like “what do I do if I need to take an Uber but I have way too much luggage,” or Uber and Lyft deals and discounts in other cities, just in case your battery is low, you’re desperate to get home and you’re pretty sure you’re going to have to pay more.