Only 1 in 20 trips affected by fare shock – Uber PH

Gelo Gonzales
Only 1 in 20 trips affected by fare shock – Uber PH
Uber PH addresses concerns about its new 'upfront fare' system

MANILA, Philippines – In November, ride-sharing app Uber introduced a new way of informing passengers of how much their ride would cost. It’s called “upfront fare” and what it does is that it computes the several factors (time, distance, surge rate) affecting the overall fare, and rounds it off into a single number. The number is shown to riders as an estimate of how much they would be paying for their trip.

As opposed to the old system, the upfront fare is meant to take away the act of having to compute for your fare manually with Uber’s surge rates. These surge rates occur in high-demand situations, and in the old system, were readily shown to the rider.

The change, unfortunately, has led to problems for some Uber users. They experience a form of “fare shock,” where they end up paying more than what the upfront pricing system initially told them. Several of these users have surfaced on social media, claiming that the new system feels misleading. 

In a roundtable meeting with media on Thursday, December 22, Uber Philippines general manager Lawrence Cua addressed the issue.

He clarified that the discrepancy – which causes the fare shock – may arise because of several different factors: the route changed, the trip added multiple stops, or the traffic worsened during the trip.

When those happen, Uber reverts to its original way of computing for time and distance along with potential surge rates, instead of the initial upfront fare offered. Cua said this is done in order to protect the Uber driver and ensure that he’s being compensated properly. 

Affected users

Cua said, however, that those experiencing the discrepancies are in the minority. According to him, fare shock occurs only once every 20 trips or 5% of trips. 

Currently, there are around 600,000 Uber users in the Philippines, said Cua. If all of them took an Uber trip now, 5% of those trips (30,000) would be affected.

As Uber gets more data and feedback, Cua said they are constantly improving their predictive capabilities to come up with more accurate upfront fares.

But the ride-sharing app also needs to do a better job of letting passengers know that upfront fares are not fixed – they’re just predictions and can change in the middle of a trip. 

Uber already has a page on its website explaining the details of the upfront fare system, but not everyone will get to read that. Perhaps the app design could be tweaked to better inform the rider of potential fare hikes mid-trip.

Currently, Uber has no such plans to tweak the design or revert to the old system. The current solution it has proposed is for affected consumers to file a help ticket, which the ride-sharing firm vowed to address immediately.

Uber is also looking to increase its fleet of drivers, which is currently stuck at 20,000 because of legal issues with the government. With more drivers on the road, Uber’s hope is that the fluctuation in fares can be more manageable. Right now, the demand outstrips supply, causing higher surges during rush hour and creating bigger fluctuations for the upfront fare system. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.