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Uber changes pricing model and scheduling options

Posted July 6

Uber's recent changes include more exact pricing, an ability to schedule rides ahead of time and new music options. (Deseret Photo)

Uber, the popular ride-hailing service, is rethinking everything from pricing to when users can schedule a ride and what music they can listen to as they drive.

Previously when users booked a ride with Uber they would get an approximate estimate of their fare. But on Thursday Uber stated that it's moving to more exact pricing.

“Imagine buying an airline ticket without knowing the full fare until the end of your trip. Or booking a hotel room online and being told that the real price would be 1.3X,” a press release from Uber said.

Upfront fares, as they’re called, have been a feature of UberPool, Uber’s carpool service that makes up more than 20 percent of all its rides across the world for the past two years. And now regular UberX users can receive more exact pricing as well, the company said in its press release.

The Christian Science Monitor noted the announcement came the same day that a Senate bill was introduced that would require ride-share businesses to give "clear and conspicuous transportation fare estimates to riders at all times.”

However, the company did not mention this as part of its reasoning, instead saying that it was to allow for more transparency in pricing, The Christian Science Monitor added.

Uber has also had trouble with its previous pricing system and its approximations. Such as around New Year's of this year when, as BuzzFeed reports, some customers found that they spent a couple hundred bucks on a ride that was normally $20 to $40, thanks to high demand and unclear pricing.

The Christian Science Monitor mentioned the changes "will make it easier for users to understand when higher prices are in effect."

Quartz reported that surge pricing, or higher fares when demand for rides increases, will still be in effect under the new system.

Mashable reported earlier in June that, like its rival Lyft, Uber is now letting riders schedule pick-ups up to 30 days in advance, shifting away from a solely on-demand business model.

It’s not a perfect idea, though.

"The biggest difficulty with pre-scheduled rides for drivers is that they have to clear out their schedule ahead of time in order to make sure that they're available," Harry Campbell, a driver for Uber and Lyft and creator of The Rideshare Guy, told Mashable.

Uber’s blog said the scheduled rides options started in Seattle, with plans to bring it to “other top business travel cities” and to eventually have it available globally. So far, scheduled rides at Uber are priced the same as unscheduled rides, whereas Lyft has riders paying a little extra for the service, according to Mashable.

On a lighter note, Reuters reported Monday that Uber and online radio station Pandora have partnered up to integrate Pandora into Uber’s app, allowing users to listen to music on the go.

Uber already had a deal with music-streaming service Spotify, and now Pandora will be offered as another entertainment option for the company’s 450,000 active U.S. drivers, according to Reuters.

Contact the reporter at smanderson@deseretnews.com; Or follow her on Twitter at @Sarahsonofander.

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