26 June 2016

Uber Gets Even More Evil

First Uber has redefined it app to conceal when it charges surge prices to its users:
An Uber exec recently disclosed that the company knows when you are more likely to pay surge pricing. (It’s when your phone battery is just about to die.) But with a potential app change Uber is rolling out, this might not matter, because you probably won’t notice that surge is even in effect.

The app change, The Verge reports, would eliminate the blue-and-black circle that pops up before you hail a ride, letting you know that your trip will cost you two or three times what it usually does. On that screen, users also have to manually input the surge percentage, a sort of formal acknowledgement they know the ride will cost extra. (Like guac.)

Instead, now when you order a ride, you’ll see a set fare, a small line of text letting you know there’s an additional cost, and no second confirmation or indication of the surge multiplier.
Did you notice that especially evil bit there? It jacks up the rates when it knows that your battery is about to die?  That is deeply evil on a level  that buggers the mind:
Other than the company’s notoriously lax attitude about background checks, allegations of drivers kidnapping and raping riders, and that, um, interesting new logo, the worst thing about Uber is surge pricing. And, not surprisingly, the company has figured out exactly when you are more likely to pay double or triple the cost of your ride: when your phone battery is low.
This is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation, which means that this is a company that our society (or at least our financial system) lionizes.

This is a particularly searing indictment of the values we hold as a society.


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