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Uber gives customers the option to silence its drivers

MoneyWatch: Uber unveils "quiet mode"
  • Uber Black passengers can now request before their pickup that their driver not talk to them.
  • The ride-hail service announced this and other features, including luggage assistance and extended wait times, on Wednesday.
  • The company partnered with Martha Stewart, who trashed her Uber experience in a withering 2018 Instagram post, to make and announce the upgrades to its premium service.

Uber on Wednesday rolled out a slew of new features, including the option to silence your driver — if you're willing to shell out for a premium ride.

The new perks, which include luggage assistance and temperature regulation, are only available to Uber Black and Uber Black SUV passengers. Uber Black guarantees high-end black cars, highly-rated professional drivers, and can cost up to three times the amount of a standard ride.

"Quiet Mode," which the ride-hail giant says was launched in partnership with home styling guru Martha Stewart, allows customers to request that their driver not engage them in conversation.

"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. If you're in the mood to chat, that's an option too," Uber said of the new feature.

Uber drivers go on strike, demanding better pay and benefits

Riders who shell out for a luxe ride are also afforded an extended pickup period in case "unexpected delays pop up," the company said Wednesday.

Uber said the effort to improve the service was based on feedback form riders, who said they wanted to communicate their preferences to drivers before a trip started. Drivers also indicated that they wanted to understand riders' preferences in order to deliver optimal customer service.

Stewart — who wrote on Instagram about her notoriously unpleasant experience with Uber November 2018 — shared a spot on Twitter endorsing the new and improved service.

"You've heard of house music, but my style is more housekeeping music. And when I head to a gig, I choose an @Uber Black trip so I can request an extra hand with my bags," she said in the ad.

"We partnered closely with her based on her experiences with the premium service," an Uber spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.

Uber could use a little premium press, for that matter. The company made its highly hyped initial public offering last week only to see shares drop more than 7% percent on the first day of trading, reflecting public investors' concerns over its path to profitability. The company lost $3 billion last year, and is betting on new services like Uber Eats and Uber Freight, expansion into new markets, and investment in autonomous vehicles will eventually reverse the company's money-losing record.

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