Technology

Uber to 'hide' surge pricing notifications

Uber app Image copyright PA

Uber is to hide surge pricing notifications for more of its users to make its app less "complicated".

During busy periods, the taxi firm's customers are currently told they will be charged a "surge price" such as 1.7 or 2.3 times the standard fare.

Customers will instead be shown a fixed fee with a notice that "fares are higher due to increased demand".

One analyst said hiding the surge price multiplier could stop people being discouraged from using the service.

"I've been in the situation myself, where I've held off using an Uber during a surge," said Jim Clark, research director at Econsultancy.

"We are sensitive to price - as a nation we do like a bargain and that's one of the reasons they'll be making this change."

Uber told the BBC it was moving to a system where riders would know the cost of their journey before booking. Presently, factors such as waiting time in traffic can increase the cost of a journey

In a blog post, Uber said it had started rolling out the change in the US and India in April.

It said more cities would follow suit, but told the BBC it had no timescale for implementing the change in the UK.

'Complicated math'

In addition to hiding the surge price multiplier, Uber is also removing an option that notifies customers when the surge price drops.

Uber said the changes made the app "clear and simple".

"There's no complicated math and no surprises - passengers can just sit back and enjoy the ride," it said.

However, Mr Clark said hiding the surge price multiplier could also have a financial benefit for Uber.

"There is the argument that it becomes quicker and easier to see the price," Mr Clark told the BBC.

"But I think that's an argument only Uber might make rather than anybody else.

"From a business perspective, it makes sense - it encourages people to use the service.

"But it's important to give users a choice of whether to wait - being given all the information is the spirit of the sharing economy. At the very least they could give users the option to switch the surge information on or off."

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