Uber is currently available in 70 countries and how it works, and what it and its drivers can and cannot do can sometimes vary from country to country (or even city to city) depending on local laws.
If Uber is anything like other large companies, I’d also suspect they experiment with new and different ideas in a select city or cities to see how it goes, and then roll it out on a larger scale if it’s successful. If that’s the case with this newest update in the U.K., well, it’s not a good thing for passengers and I hope it never makes it to the U.S.
A recent update to Uber’s terms of service in the U.K. is that Uber drivers will be able to see a passenger’s requested destination before they accept the ride.
In the earlier years of Uber, drivers had no idea about a passenger’s intended destination. Then a few years ago, they updated the drivers’ software that introduced them knowing what their approximate drive time would be between your pickup and drop off points, but they didn’t know where you wanted to go until they pick you up. At that point, they’re committed to driving you (unless they cancel – which gives them a penalty that will cost them money. They can also ask the passenger to cancel, which is a money making scam some drivers have used).
One Uber driver in the U.K. was quoted as saying this new system would help to decrease cancellations. “The fact they [the drivers] now know about it [the destination] before accepting the trip is going to massively reduce the rate of cancellations,” he told Wired.
Knowing what the passenger’s intended drop off location is gives a large advantage to the drivers, but at the potential expense of the passengers. The passenger’s destination may be in a neighborhood the driver doesn’t want to go into for safety or other reasons. It may be further than the driver wants to go (telling approximately long the drive will take can still leave lots of options, from somewhere nearby with lots of traffic to somewhere much further away but with no traffic). So yes, as the Uber driver suggested, it may decrease cancellations – but it also may decrease agreement of pickups in the first place, depending on circumstances.
I don’t know if Uber plans to roll this out to the U.S. but from a passenger point of view, I’m not chomping at the bit for it to happen. How about you?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary