According to Uber, people with dying phone batteries are willing to pay a higher price for its service. Despite possessing this knowledge, the company denies ever capitalizing on it.
An article on Gizmodo refers to the many components on a customer’s phone that Uber has access to your camera, your contacts, your location and even your battery life.
Keith Chen, the head of economic research for Uber, claims that this feature exists to allow the app to go into low power mode, but adds in an episode of NPR’s “The Hidden Brain” podcast that people with dying batteries are willing to pay higher amounts for a ride.
While Chen insisted that the company would never use that information to goad customers into a higher surge price, Uber has come under fire in the past for surge pricing during times of panic.
Chen goes on to describe how customers are willing to pay 9.9x times in surge pricing if their phone batteries are low. The reasoning here is that customers with fully charged phones can afford to wait until the price goes down.
Related reading: Toronto taxi brokerages say they won’t use surge pricing