Uber says you're willing to pay more when your phone is dying

It's no surprise that Uber knows a lot about its customers based on their use of its ride-hailing app. Speaking with NPR's Hidden Brain podcast this week, the company's head of economic research Keith Chen revealed when we're most likely to pay more for the service. As it turns out, riders tend to overlook the increased rates of surge pricing when their phone battery is running low.

Uber's app has permission to access all sorts of things on your phone, including peeping how much juice is left on that battery. Why? Well, Chen says it's so the app can switch over to a low-power mode, but he also mentioned that folks with a dying handset are okay with paying more. He also says that the company doesn't use this information to jack up rates. Chen notes that in general, customers are fine with paying surge rates that are 1.9 and 2.1 times the regular price. However, when that amount sits at exactly twice the normal amount, there's a dramatic decrease in ride scheduling.

If you want to hear the entire episode, you can listen right here:

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This article by Billy Steele originally ran on Engadget, the definitive guide to this connected life.

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