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Uber CEO says new feature will tell customers when surge pricing ends

Uber CEO says new feature will tell customers when surge pricing ends

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is trying to make the company's surge pricing less painful, GeekWire reports. At today's Launch Festival in San Francisco, Kalanick said the company is working on a new push notification that will tell users when surge pricing is no longer in effect, stopping more price-conscious customers from writing off the service altogether during busy periods. Kalanick framed the feature as a way to meet Uber's new goal of "bringing humanity to our communications," boosting the image of a company that competitors have portrayed as ruthless and impersonal.

Surge pricing, which raises fares steeply during periods of high demand, has been in place since the service launched but gained renewed attention in late 2013, when prices rose to $35 a mile. Regardless of whether the move was economically sound, it wasn't popular, and Uber was accused of price gouging. Not long after, however, Uber lowered fares for its cheapest service in 16 markets, attempting to appeal to people who weren't wooed by its relatively luxurious but higher-priced options. This new feature will hopefully be added soon, although there's no exact timeline given.

Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that surge pricing was put in place in 2013, not at launch.