TikToker claims Uber surge prices based on battery life

·3-min read

The desperate scramble to call an Uber as your phone runs out of battery is all too familiar for many people — but could it be costing you more to call a ride if your battery level drops?

One TikTok user says this is the case, claiming that the prices for an Uber ride are relative to the phone battery level.

However, Uber has dispelled the rumour, assuring it's "completely false".

The TikToker claims uber charges more if your phone's battery is low. Source:
The TikToker claims uber charges more if your phone's battery is low. Source:

In the video, which has been viewed over 640,000 times, Tony Aubé, an artificial intelligence and tech designer, conducts an experiment with his friend, showing the price increase.

"Uber will charge you more if your phone's about to die," he claims. "They know you're desperate."

Claims other rideshare apps do the same

Mr Aubé, from the Czech Republic, showed the price difference between calling for an Uber on a full battery compared to when it's running out of battery.

Shockingly, it was 20 per cent more for the same trip for the lower battery.

"This is so evil," Mr Aubé said. "I bet the man who thought of that got a promotion."

Mr Aubé responded to people claiming it was a hoax, saying they had tried it multiple times with the same result.

“We tried it [four times] within 30 [minutes]. Got the same price at 15 per cent battery. Got the 20 per cent [three times] in a row under 10 per cent [battery],” he commented. 

He also claims that Bolt, a ridesharing platform in Europe, does the same.

Photo of the Uber app on an iPhone.
Uber says there's no truth to the claims.

Commenters on Mr Aubé’s video also pointed out that requesting rides on different phones from the same location could affect the supply and demand, therefore increasing prices.

In the comments, Mr Aubé assured TikTokers that the requests were sent “at the same time” and urged commenters to try the experiment themselves.

'Completely false', Uber says

Uber responded to the video telling Yahoo News Australia the claim is false.

“A user's mobile phone battery has no impact on the price of their trip," a spokesperson from Uber Australia said.

“Uber provides every single rider certainty about the cost of their rides on our platform thanks to Upfront Pricing.

"As the name suggests, riders are able to 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 drivers-partners. 

"In such situations, riders are still given an upfront price before they request their ride, giving them the freedom to decide if they want to use the platform.”

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