Thanks to Uber’s surge pricing, at a busy time on Friday night you may pay twice as much as, say, a quiet Tuesday.
That’s because the ride sharing app bases its rates on demand and when there are more people needing a lift than drivers to service them, it increases them accordingly.
The way many people avoid this (besides hailing a cab) is by waiting a few minutes until demand lessens - with one major exception.
According to Keith Chen, Uber's head of economic research, we’re more likely to accept surge pricing when the clock is ticking on our battery consumption.
One of the strongest predictors of whether or not you’re going to be sensitive to surge… is how much battery you have left on your cell phone.
“One of the strongest predictors of whether or not you’re going to be sensitive to surge… is how much battery you have left on your cell phone,” Chen says in a Hidden Brain podcast.
“When your cell phone is down to below five per cent battery and that little icon on the iPhone turns red, then people start saying, 'Well I better get home.'”
Researchers are able to make the connection because Uber's app records low battery power, though Chen denies the information is used for profit.
He says, "We absolutely don’t use that to push you a higher surge price, but it’s an interesting kind of psychological fact of human behaviour."