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Uber Is About To Get Super Sneaky With Its Surge Prices

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Uber regulars know how annoying those darn surge prices can be. Those periods when rides are in high demand and the prices skyrocket are definitely painful on our wallets. But do you think you would feel better about these up-charges if they weren't highlighted so prominently in the app? Uber thinks so. The ride-hailing company is testing out a new version of its app that makes surge pricing a whole lot harder to spot. With the new version, users will be given a fare price up front, with “increased demand” written underneath the fare. This is a significant departure from what riders used to see: a lightning bolt on the homescreen and a pop-up notification that showed the increased fare.
Uber's reasoning for the change: "no math and no surprises," the company explains in a blog post. Before, when riders received a notification for a surge-price increase, the app didn't give you a total fare estimate. Instead, the rider would only be told how much the normal price would be multiplied by, and the math was up to you. Now, you'll know what the full price of your trip will be from the get-go. Uber is likely hoping that seeing a dollar amount ("Oh, this trip will cost $25") without knowing that the rate is jacked ("This trip normally would cost only $15") will convince users to stick with an Uber when they may otherwise have opted for a different mode of transportation. If you aren't a math wiz, you may like this change, but it still seems a bit sneaky. However, knowing the fare up front should help us make more economical decisions — and without the guilt of knowing our fares are being hiked up three times the amount of what they would normally be.

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