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Does Uber charge you more if your phone battery is low?

Another one for the “genius but absolutely get outta here” category if it’s true:

What I learned is that if you’re battery level is below 20% Uber and Lyft will purposely hike up the prices because they believe you’ll be desperate enough to take it since you’re battery levels are low

That’s from Sarah on Twitter. They followed up with a screenshot.

This classic “hard to verify, company will always deny it, but it feels likely” situation. Comes down to your vibe on Uber, Lyft, and the like.

Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me if ride-sharing apps do charge you more if your battery is low. Back in 2016, Keith Chen – Uber’s Head of Economic Research at the time – told NPR that users were more likely to pay surge pricing if their phone’s battery was low.

Chen “promises the company doesn’t use that information to set prices,” of course. But that was 2016.

Maybe Uber has since changed their policies to exploit this quirk of human behaviour. They’ve got to make a profit somehow. Or it could be confirmation bias: use Uber enough and you might collect enough instances where prices seem higher and your battery is low.

Wouldn’t surprise me though. It’s just the vibe of the thing.

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