- Belgian newspaper study suggests Uber charges 6% more for low phone battery users
- Uber denies battery level affects payment and cites demand for rides and driver supply as determining factors
- Former Uber head of economic research previously found correlation between low battery and willingness to pay for surge pricing
Hey there, so there's been some buzz lately about Uber charging users more if they have low phone battery. According to a small study by a Belgian newspaper, Dernière Heure, the app allegedly changes its pricing for users in Brussels based on their phone's battery level.
The study found that two identical requests were made to go from and to the same location, yet Uber charged 6% more for the journey that was made on a smartphone with only 12% battery remaining. Meanwhile, the phone with 84% battery was charged €16.60 (£14.56, $18.10) for the same journey that the other phone with low battery was charged €17.56 (£15.41, $19.16) for.
However, Uber has denied these accusations and says that payment is not determined by how much charge a phone’s battery has left. The company claims that the dynamic pricing applied to trips booked via Uber is determined by the existing demand for rides and the supply of drivers who can respond to it.
Interestingly, this is not the first time Uber has been accused of taking advantage of its users’ battery life. In 2016, the company's former head of economic research, Keith Chen, mentioned in an interview with NPR that the company had found that people with lower battery levels were more willing to pay for surge pricing. However, Chen denied that the company was specifically raising prices on these users, but some commentators raised eyebrows about why the company was monitoring battery life at all.
So, whether you believe the accusations or not, it's always important to keep your phone charged while using Uber or any other ride-sharing app. Who knows, maybe your phone's battery level does affect your fare, or maybe it doesn't - but it's better to be safe than sorry!
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