Uber isn't getting rid of surge pricing anytime soon, but the company will at least help riders avoid exorbitant rates by sending push notifications when prices subside.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick revealed the push notification plans during a conference in San Francisco this week, saying the company has a goal this year to bring “humanity to our communications,” Geekwire reports. An Uber representative told CNET that push notifications will by added to the service's iOS app in the coming weeks, followed by other platforms in the future.
Surge pricing is Uber's way of dealing with excess demand for the classy private car service. During times of peak demand, Uber jacks up its prices, sometimes as much as seven to eight times the normal rate.
Uber says surge pricing encourages drivers to stay on the roads in high-demand areas and lets users get fast service when they desperately need a ride. But it has also led to allegations of price gouging, as users could pay hundreds of dollars for a single trip. In fairness, Uber clearly alerts users when surge pricing is in effect, and requires them to confirm the higher rate by typing in the current fare multiplier. A fair quote option also tells users roughly how much they could expect to pay.
Regardless of surge pricing's merits, it's clear that Uber could do more to help riders pay less. The app currently tells users when a higher fare will expire, but even this requires users to be mindful of the time or keep checking their phones. Push notifications would at least help users relax and enjoy their time out.
Uber is currently available in 34 U.S. cities and in 29 countries, but faces competition from other private car services such as Lyft and Sidecar. Those services have taken their own approaches to high-demand situations, with Lyft adding surge pricing-like “Prime Time Tips” and Sidecar letting drivers set their own prices.
This story, "New Uber push notifications will let you know when surge pricing ends" was originally published by TechHive.