Most Uber users know what to do if they see surge pricing—treat it like a busy signal and try again in a few minutes. But one group of people can’t do that: people with phones that are almost out of battery power.
In an interview with NPR, Uber’s chief economic researcher Keith Chen said the company understands this very well.
“When your cell phone is like down to like below 5% battery and that little icon on the iPhone turns red, you know, then people start saying, well, I better get home,” Chen told NPR’s Shankar Vedantam, “because I don’t quite know how I’m going to get home otherwise.”
Chen then stressed that the company does not take advantage of this very lucrative knowledge—which Uber could examine thanks to the permissions users give its app.
As Quartz notes, Uber’s knowledge of your behavior via the data it collects could have some very broad implications—previously it was discovered that the company was collecting other pertinent info such as call logs, message histories, and data usage.
Besides the Big Brother aspects of the interview, there were some interesting behavioral finance tidbits. For example, people are more willing to pay 2.1 times the price versus just twice as much, because the former seems scientific and the latter arbitrary—something that could be useful in negotiations.