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Uber calls TikTok user’s theory that phone battery affects prices ‘completely false’

2 Mins read

TikTok user Tony Aubé created a stir online by speculating that Uber was jacking up prices for some of its customers. The company has responded. Uber has labeled a wild theory that it squeezes more money from customers with low phone batteries “completely false”. TikTok user Tony Aubé created something of a stir online last week by showing how the projected cost of a journey differed significantly between one of his phones with a full charge and another that was about to go flat. In Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, the trip cost $8.10 on the phone with a full battery and almost 20 percent more at $9.69 on the one that was dying.


Mr. Aubé speculated that the company knew customers were “desperate” for a lift when their phone was flat and strategically used that fact to exploit them. “This is just so evil. I bet the guy who thought of that got a promotion,” he said. Mr. Aubé encouraged viewers to make sure they charged their phones before trying to book a ride with Uber to avoid having to pay more – but they weren’t convinced he was right. Of almost 900 people to comment on the video, several doubted the theory’s legitimacy, with one pointing out that Uber prices changed rapidly relative to demand. Mr. Aubé said he tested his hypothesis four times in 30 minutes and noticed the same trend repeat. He claimed the same price showed up three times in a row after the phone with less than 10 percent battery tried booking a trip. He confirmed that both phones tried booking a trip simultaneously while logging into different accounts in another reply.

One person responded to the video claiming they worked for Uber and knew it could check the battery percentage of phones. Still, many doubted battery life had anything to do with Uber’s prices and called on Mr. Aubé to test the theory thoroughly. “A better way to prove this would be to gather more people simultaneously with different battery percentages and test it out,” one person wrote. Another suggested it could have been the two phones ordering from the exact location simultaneously that increased the price for one of them. “I would love to see more testing on that. It could also be that you made two requests simultaneously, increasing demand and therefore increasing rates,” they wrote.

A spokesperson for Uber Australia said the TikTok user’s theory was “completely false” “This is completely false. A user’s mobile phone battery has no impact on the price of their trip,” they told news.com.au. “Uber provides every single rider certainty about the cost of their rides on our platform thanks to Upfront Pricing. As the name suggests, riders can see the total cost of a trip from their location to a destination before booking a ride. “There are occasions when the cost of riding is higher than usual. This happens when demand from riders exceeds the supply of driver-partners. In such situations, riders are still given an upfront price before they request their ride, allowing them to decide if they want to use the platform.”

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