By Ethan Baron The Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Uber says customers in the "Uber Black" and "Uber Black SUV" will be able to tell their drivers to STFU.
The Mercury News
Customers spoke: They wanted their Uber drivers to put a sock in it.
Uber listened. And as of Tuesday, in its premium "Black" services, riders can use the company's app to tell the man or woman behind the wheel to keep their mouth shut.
"If you need to respond to emails or are in the mood for a nap, make your trip a quieter one with just one tap," the San Francisco ride-hailing giant said in a blog post announcing "Quiet Mode."
Uber product manager Aydin Ghajar told TechCrunch the feature "is something that people have been asking for for a long time."
Customers will be able to tell their drivers to STFU in the "Uber Black" and "Uber Black SUV" services, the company said.
Riders using those services, which Uber calls "the business class of back seats", are piloted by drivers who must maintain high "star" ratings. Riders can make drivers wait around longer to pick them up without imposition of fees and can get "premium" customer support by phone.
The "Black" options, similar to private-car services, are considerably more expensive than the "UberX" option, which resembles a taxi ride. On Wednesday morning, Uber's platform showed a trip from downtown San Jose to San Jose International Airport costing $14.22 for "UberX," $35.07 for "Black" and $44.94 for "Black SUV."
Two days before Uber went public Friday, company drivers across the U.S. staged protests about wages and working conditions.
While using an app to perform the electronic equivalent of duct-taping a driver's mouth shut may rub some folk the wrong way, TechCrunch pointed out that "women often feel uncomfortable when male drivers incessantly talk to them, and it can get scary when it turns into unwanted flirtation, considering the driver is in control. In many cases, riders may feel rude or frightened to reject conversation and ask out loud for quiet."
Along with "Quiet Mode," Uber rolled out additional new features for its "Black" services. Riders can now use the app to tell drivers they'll need help with luggage, and can tell their chauffeurs what their "optimal temperature" i, so the vehicle can be made just right for them before they get in.