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Uber Update Spotlights 'Upfront Fares' While Burying Surge Pricing Notifications

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Ride hailing app Uber has begun testing a version of its app in six United States cities, with a new UI that makes periods of surge pricing more subtle to discover for users. Surge pricing is a term dedicated to windows when riders greatly exceed drivers, resulting in heightened fare prices due to the increased demand.

When this would happen prior to Uber's new test, anyone signing into the app would get a pop-up notification that surge pricing was in effect, along with a general multiplier that they would have to add into their driving fare to figure out its total cost.

The update nixes both features, simultaneously making it harder to know when surge pricing is in effect without notifications, but also benefitting users thanks to an "upfront fare" with "no complicated math and no surprises," according to Uber.
Upfront fares are calculated using the expected time and distance of the trip and local traffic, as well as how many riders and nearby drivers are using Uber at that moment. And 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.
Now, when users want to know when surge pricing is in effect, a faint line of text references "increased demand" beneath their fare. The company is testing the upfront fare system in New York City, Miami, San Diego, Philadelphia, Seattle, and some parts of New Jersey, in addition to five cities in India: New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Chennai. The surge pricing update is expected to hit the rest of Uber's markets around the world "in the next few months."

Previous Coverage: Uber Attempts to Address Driver Concerns With New App Update

Article Link: Uber Update Spotlights 'Upfront Fares' While Burying Surge Pricing Notifications
 

Pbrutto

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Apr 21, 2015
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I just recently used uber for the first time (own a car, travel mostly with it or rentals) and I was actually surprised about surge pricing. I have friends who use it all the time and they never mentioned that part (which I thought was the most important part to mention). I think further burying surge pricing will not change how most regular users feel but might really annoy first time users who are unaware to begin with.
 
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thisisnotmyname

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I use Uber quite a bit. Given they are providing an accurate fare I could care less whether it's surge time or not. I'm either satisfied with the estimate provided and take the ride or I'm not and I pass. This doesn't seem like news to me.

And even at surge rates an Uber is still light years ahead of an old school taxi ride experience.
 
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fitshaced

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Jul 2, 2011
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I just recently used uber for the first time (own a car, travel mostly with it or rentals) and I was actually surprised about surge pricing. I have friends who use it all the time and they never mentioned that part (which I thought was the most important part to mention). I think further burying surge pricing will not change how most regular users feel but might really annoy first time users who are unaware to begin with.
I've never used Uber because of surge pricing. Knowing my luck, I'll try Uber for the first time on the same day that the Queen of England pays a surprise visit accompanied by the Pope.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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This MacRumors article seems to be really negative about something that, it seems to me, is an obvious and massive improvement.

Just tell me what the damn price is. Either I accept the price and I'll use the service, or I don't and I'll find another way to get to my destination.
 
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Iconoclysm

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May 13, 2010
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I use Uber quite a bit. Given they are providing an accurate fare I could care less whether it's surge time or not. I'm either satisfied with the estimate provided and take the ride or I'm not and I pass. This doesn't seem like news to me.

And even at surge rates an Uber is still light years ahead of an old school taxi ride experience.

I don't know, a $110 ride home from a concert that cost $19 to get to from the same service seems more like limo ride prices than taxi ride prices...
 
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2457282

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This MacRumors article seems to be really negative about something that, it seems to me, is an obvious and massive improvement.

Just tell me what the damn price is. Either I accept the price and I'll use the service, or I don't and I'll find another way to get to my destination.

My concern is that this will create significant confusion unless the price is clear that it includes a surge cost. Today if one knows that surge is in effect they can decide to wait a while for the surge to go down. However, if they just see a price that seems too high and are not informed that it includes a surge, one might just say "screw this" and hail a cab. So how they implement this could make it an improvement or it could cost them money.

Full disclosure, I hate Uber and use Lyft exclusively.
 
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639051

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I use Uber quite a bit. Given they are providing an accurate fare I could care less whether it's surge time or not. I'm either satisfied with the estimate provided and take the ride or I'm not and I pass. This doesn't seem like news to me.

And even at surge rates an Uber is still light years ahead of an old school taxi ride experience.

Same here. As long as I am okay with the pricing, why do I care if it is surge or not? I've never been a single rider in the first place, I normally have at least three others with me so splitting fare on a few bucks is trivial. Light years better than crummy taxi services which have always cost me more than $30-40.
 
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walnuts

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Nov 8, 2007
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This MacRumors article seems to be really negative about something that, it seems to me, is an obvious and massive improvement.

Just tell me what the damn price is. Either I accept the price and I'll use the service, or I don't and I'll find another way to get to my destination.


I disagree to an extent. Yes- it is better to know upfront what the total cost will be. But, surge pricing is moving from what it is now ("hey, it's really busy so we need to charge you extra") to essentially a hidden fee. I for one want to know that I'm getting charged extra than normal on top of knowing clearly what the whole fee is.

As an aside, this seems to be a confused mixed message coming from Uber. I think the purpose of a surge fee is to encourage some people not to use uber when the demand is higher than they can meet, and make more money off of those who still want to use it despite the peak period. This sounds like the people in charge of the service (making sure customers are getting appropriate service by matching demand with pricing) are fighting with the bean counters (take customers even if we can't realistically serve them all- cash is king).
 
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thisisnotmyname

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I don't know, a $110 ride home from a concert that cost $19 to get to from the same service seems more like limo ride prices than taxi ride prices...

My point was that if the fare is presented accurately you can choose not to take that $110 ride.

There's competition in the marketplace, you are free to use it. Thankfully I'm free to avoid taxis thanks to Uber.
[doublepost=1466781949][/doublepost]
I've never used Uber because of surge pricing. Knowing my luck, I'll try Uber for the first time on the same day that the Queen of England pays a surprise visit accompanied by the Pope.

Geography and time play a big roll but I rarely see the lightning bolts. I was out in the sticks near Denver recently and they only had two uber drivers (and no Black) so it seemed like surge happened more frequently (maybe any time that one of the two was in use :p ). Also around bar close time it's more likely. Otherwise I see it very infrequently and if it's a problem you can usually wait 20 minutes and it's over (they'll even send a notification if you want).

I'd recommend trying it. Unlike a taxi they'll give you a fare estimate right up front so there's no worry about surge "surprises" and the experience is so much better than a dirty smelly taxi. After several years of Uber now I'd rather walk than take an old style taxi.
 
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0007776

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Display the price. Let the customer choose if they want it or not. Done.
Exactly I hate hidden fees that come along after you show me the advertised price. The price that is shown should be what I will pay or at least have the option of paying if I don't want to add extra services.
 
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Pbrutto

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Apr 21, 2015
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I've never used Uber because of surge pricing. Knowing my luck, I'll try Uber for the first time on the same day that the Queen of England pays a surprise visit accompanied by the Pope.
First time I used it was a few weeks ago in Baltimore.....happened to use it right when a Beyoncé concert let out.....
 
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TonyC28

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Aug 15, 2009
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As long as they have some kind of fine print or explanation that states that prices are dependent on demand then I don't see a problem.
 
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JtheLemur

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May 13, 2002
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Huh. The app experience I currently have in NYC, removed the onscreen lightning-bolt indicators that a given pickup area has surge pricing in effect. When you tap to request, you do still get the normal multiplier screen ("1.5x normal fare"). The change being in that they did indeed remove the immediate UI indicator(s) that surge is active.
 
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rhett7660

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Jan 9, 2008
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I use Uber quite a bit. Given they are providing an accurate fare I could care less whether it's surge time or not. I'm either satisfied with the estimate provided and take the ride or I'm not and I pass. This doesn't seem like news to me.

And even at surge rates an Uber is still light years ahead of an old school taxi ride experience.

This, I use Uber a boat load, and I am actually really impressed with their service and like this post, Taxi's are so far behind. No thanks.
 
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blasto2236

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Nov 4, 2012
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Just one more reason to stick with Lyft, as far as I'm concerned. Their whole model is better. And the drivers are usually happier. Generally, my Uber drivers spend most of the ride complaining about how terrible it is to drive for Uber.
 
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