Uber announced last Thursday that they were planning on phasing out Surge completely starting with major cities in the U.S and in India. The app will now show the fare before you embark on your ride rather than at the end.
Uber in a recent blog post said:
We moved to upfront, per trip fares—just like airlines and hotels—two years ago when we launched uberPOOL. Riders needed to enter their destinations so we could match them with other people headed the same way. This allowed us to calculate the actual fare in advance and show it to riders before they booked their ride.
Knowing how much a ride will cost in advance is clearly something riders appreciate: today uberPOOL accounts for over 20 percent of all rides globally. And we now want more riders globally to benefit from this feature.
So in April we began slowly introducing upfront fares for regular uberX trips in cities across the US and more recently in India, with more to follow. To date, hundreds of thousands of riders have experienced upfront fares as part of this rollout.
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.
So basically, Uber isn’t actually doing away with the surge pricing concept entirely, instead it is just letting passengers know what to expect in advance. You now, as a passenger, get a fare charge along with the message that there is ‘higher demand’ in the case of a surge. Whether or not the price will change if an unexpected route is used or needed remains to be seen.
SherpaShare Pulse reacts
As you would expect the topic has generated a fair amount of discussion among the driver community. One thread with a link to the Wall Street Journal coverage of Uber’s changes currently has 30 replies. Here’s some of the discussion
Silver Lining in Upfront Fares?
Some drivers have discussed the potential positives of this change by Uber. It would make it less obvious to the passenger when the surge ended and that the passenger would be less likely to wait out the surge, and potentially accept a higher fare. Others thought this would make it more complicated to actually find out what was going on and this would eliminate the main incentive for drivers to get out on the road.
“Passengers will be required to enter a destination. Then they will be shown the actual fare. They won’t see a multiplier of regular fare anymore. We drivers should still see the heat map for surges.”
“They are doing away with the option for passengers to get a notification when the surge ends. Hooray!”“It’s gonna be harder to see what area is surging for us! We are gonna have a harder time finding surge.”
Drivers also brought up many outstanding questions. Some wondered who would pick up the difference if the ride ended up costing more than the fare quoted to the passenger at the beginning due to a detour. And others, as is common, jumped to Uber’s potential “sinister” motives for making such a change.
“What if there is traffic or you have to make a detour? Are drivers supposed to eat this extra cost? We are not airplanes and you can not accurately predict the time/distance of a fare every time.”“At least this gives us an excuse to say “No stops, we’re not paid for them.”“Still need more details about how detours/delays/extra stops are going to be handled. Would be nice if Uber would send a driver-side post about this in the midst of their press interviews.”“True. All in the way ppl process. “Unknowns” r like unwanted surprises.”“Range is more upfront. But that too will get challenged & changed also. Pax want close to “free rides” bcuz it has been set up that way, & drivers r reinforcing it by providing rides.”“Lol. And be held accountable or caught with lies? Never gonna happen. They will prefer to keep drivers in the dark and unaware. Then they can still manipulate them.”“Back in my armchair, I think it will be better for pax to see the fare upfront even without surge because it will put it in front of their nose how cheap it is compared to taxi.”“Well, I’d be most interested in what you find if you were to happen to notice a surge in the driver app and jumped over to the rider app for a look-see as to what, if anything, they’re told about stops en route or destination changes or the like.”
“Well, I’d be most interested in what you find if you were to happen to notice a surge in the driver app and jumped over to the rider app for a look-see as to what, if anything, they’re told about stops en route or destination changes or the like.”“Will do. I’m sort of curious, but, my experience says, it will be a blow for drivers, & I don’t look forward to seeing how fuber is screwing drivers again.”
“I guarantee this is much more of a ploy to manipulate their cut so they can get a much bigger cut of the surge pie than they are currently getting.”“The whole pricing scheme seems fishy. Either they’re going to screw drivers by giving them a flat rate based on their calculations of route and time or, they could get creative.”“If there’s no exact surge number nobody can be sure of the math.”“This is also the reason they went to honeycomb surge in larger, more dense cities.”“Their doing this to protect themselves from the robbery they’re currently doing and to make it harder to catch them.”“They could also charge pax a flat rate but pay drivers for actual time/mileage. If they do this they’ll probably slightly overestimate pax rate and keeping the difference if the driver finishes the ride at a lower fare.”“Yes. I have asked pax what was their fare charged. At 1st, I was shocked, & realized, why. It’s their M.O. Some pax charged MORE than what was shown on my fare rec’d. Pre-ask pax to confirm rates-due to errors. Not always happens, but has.”“This is why I have taken a conscious AND moral decision to not support uber. I can’t stand their tactics. Although, I still keep my account active with them.”
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