Uber and Lyft have received a lot of criticism in the past for charging some customers more when their battery life was below a certain point. The topic of services judging you and charging you based on your phone’s battery condition isn’t new, and something that’s been discussed several times. There are a lot of conspiracy theories going around on the internet, but no company has yet admitted to charging you more if your battery life is below a certain point.
The report was concluded by Sarah, also known as NerdyAndNatural on Twitter, who claimed that transport applications bump up the fare ride when it detects that your smartphone’s battery life is low (via PhoneArena).
I wanted to backed this up yesterday but I couldn't find the screenshots until this morning. You can see my battery is at 18% and the ride (which is normally $25-$30) is hiked up to $81. I saw it change instantly. The price dipped once I charged my phone to 25%. https://t.co/cy2S5YyTAr pic.twitter.com/ZaKpB7JZi0
— Sarah | Unfriendly Black Techie (@NerdyAndNatural) August 17, 2021
Sarah provided a personal example, explaining that when her battery life dropped to 18%, the fare’s price jumped to a massive $81. According to her, the same trip usually costs anywhere between $25-30.
Interestingly, the price went back down to the normal rates once the phone was charged back to about 25%. Unfortunately, the Twitter post doesn’t explain or discuss any of these claims in more detail, and it also doesn’t provide any more proof of the price jumps. Some of the comments confirmed the unusual behavior, while others apparently tried to replicate the following without success.
For as long as we have only a handful of evidence and very little proof, it wouldn’t be fair to call these services out, after all, there are likely a lot of factors that play a role when ordering a car, such as: how busy is the area, the time of day, journey length and more. The battery life theory wouldn’t be very surprising, but we simply don’t have enough proof at this time to debunk this.
According to Uber, the variable that determines the fare price are: booking fees, distance rates, taxes, surcharges for places such as airports and popular venues, and surge prices. The latter could be why Sarah may have been charged so much for a trip that usually costs a third of the price, and it may not have been related to the battery of her device.