Uber introduces upfront pricing in Singapore; some commuters complain of higher fares

Uber's new upfront pricing in Singapore has earned the ire of several commuters, since it was launched on Aug 31.
Uber's new upfront pricing in Singapore has earned the ire of several commuters, since it was launched on Aug 31.ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

SINGAPORE - Uber's new upfront pricing for its ride-hailing UberX service has come under fire from some commuters who complained that their fares have increased.

Uber, which introduced the upfront pricing on Aug 31, claimed it would ensure "no math and no surprises" for commuters.

"Because we know from UberPool that upfront fares is clearer and simpler for riders...when you book a plane ticket or hotel room you know the price before you buy it," Uber said on its website. "We see this as the right approach for Uber."

Ride-sharing service UberPool, which was launched in Singapore on July 1, allows commuters to share an Uber ride so they can save up to 25 per cent off the fare of a conventional UberX ride.

UberPool users get their fares displayed upfront on the app. UberX rides - before upfront pricing kicked in - showed only an estimate.

The move, however, appeared to be less than popular with some commuters who complained about the new policy on Uber Singapore's Facebook page.

Facebook user Jason Ooi wrote: "Did Uber just revise the ride fare in Singapore? A ride that normally costs me $6 now becomes $8 to $13 (I checked the fares the whole day).

"It used to show notification i.e. price surge or higher price due to demand but not now anymore."

Another user, Anoop Rachamalla, claimed that the minimum fare for a Uber ride to work in the morning had more than doubled from $12 to $29.

He wrote: "So there is no more surge shown but you charge almost three times the regular fare?"

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Uber's head of communications for Singapore and Malaysia Leigh Wong said on Monday (Sept 5) evening that upfront fares take into account all the factors that typically affect the price of a trip. 

"These include the expected time, distance and traffic, tolls, how many other riders are requesting rides that time, and how many drivers are nearby. The main difference is that riders now have better clarity on the fare they need to pay before they even confirm their trip," said Mr Wong. 

"This is not new for Uber: UberPool riders already enjoy this and we are now expanding this to UberX riders."

Dynamic or surge pricing, meanwhile, still exists, Uber confirmed in the FAQ section of its announcement on upfront pricing. 

"Since the rider is given a price up front, the rider actually has more information about the cost. For example saying a trip will cost $10 provides more precise info to the rider than saying the trip fare is surging by 1.5x."

Based on tests in other cities, commuters request more trips if they are offered an upfront price, said Uber.

It added that upfront fares are generally completely inclusive. It will fall back to time and distance rates only when commuters make "significant changes" to their trip route.