Want to hop in an Uber without paying surge pricing? It’ll be easier to find thanks to a new feature added to the company’s iPhone app.
The company announced today that it is launching “Surge Drop” notifications that will notify users when surge pricing drops around them. The new feature arrives a week after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced it at the Launch Festival in San Francisco.
Uber’s surge pricing strategy raises the cost of a ride when demand increases. When a user requests a ride during a surge, Uber’s app will notify them of the price increase, and offer them the choice to confirm that they want the ride. With today’s update, riders can request a push notification when the surge goes away by tapping on a button that says “notify me when surge ends.”
The notification request will only last for 30 minutes, so if users choose to grab another ride, they won’t be bothered by a push notification. Of course, that also means that riders looking to use the end of surge pricing as their last call will have to re-up their push notification request every half hour.
People may find the new feature somewhat frustrating since the notification is tied to where a user is at the time they requested a ride, so it may not be accurate if someone decides to take a walk, Uber spokesperson Andrew Noyes told GeekWire in an email. That said, users can reset their location by requesting a new notification — though this also resets the 30-minute timer.
The new “Surge Drop” feature is part of Uber’s attempt to bring more humanity to its communications. While the company argues that surge pricing is a key part of how Uber does business, critics have taken issue with what they see as price gouging. The new feature should help reduce some of that tension by helping users opt out of a surge if they have time to spare, since Kalanick said that most surges come and go fairly quickly.
Uber will be rolling out the new feature, which requires the latest version of its app, to iPhone users around the world over the course of this week. Noyes declined to say when the feature would be rolling out for Android devices.
In Seattle, discussion about the legality of transportation startups like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar is reaching a fever pitch as the City Council prepares to implement regulations that would cap the number of drivers active on each system to 150 at any given time during the day.