I once tweeted that “Heaven is a Lyft driver with a clean car who doesn’t want to talk.” And although Lyft didn’t respond to my tweet, it seems the sentiment was shared by enough people that Uber decided to accommodate socially reluctant riders like me, with a suite of new features. Chief among them is called “Quiet Mode.”
It’s essentially what it sounds like. Before your Uber vehicle even picks you up, you can indicate to the driver that you’d prefer a silent ride — one devoid of annoying, albeit friendly, chatter. The catch is, though, the new feature is only available on the new ‘Enhanced Uber Black Experience,’ which is solely available on Uber Black and Uber Black SUV.
Quiet Mode isn’t the only new feature. The Enhanced Experience, as Uber lists it, also includes:
- Help with Luggage: let your driver know an extra pair of hands is needed for your luggage.
- Temperature Control: communicate your optimal temperature before entering a vehicle.
- Extended Pickup Period: riders will have a little extra time to get to the car when unexpected delays pop up.
- Premium Support: access premium phone support with live agents if you need something to be made right.
- Professionalism: ride with confidence knowing that your professional, commercially-licensed driver is at the top of his or her game.
- Consistent Vehicle Quality: expect the same kinds of rides, every time, with consistent vehicle model, makes, interiors, and exteriors.
You’ll literally have to pay to play with these new features. That’s because, as I am sure you already know, Uber Black and Uber Black SUV rides are often two to three times more expensive than one in a standard UberX.
Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel about this one. I get that it’s important for some riders to have a quiet ride, like if they need to catch up on work. I also understand that sometimes it can be weird to inform your driver — no matter how polite you try to be — that you’d rather abstain from conversation. So this nicely removes that awkwardness.
At the same time, are we so afraid — or put off by — human interaction that we need to have our app break the news to people that’d we’d prefer they not talk to us? When you frame it that way, it seems kind of gross. I mean, how long until they add the “No Eye Contact” feature? I am being hyperbolic. But you get the idea.
I guess it’s a moot point, at least for me. I am exclusively a Lyft rider. And I pretty much refuse to spend the extra money for a fancy ridehailing vehicle. So, I guess I’ll never have the pleasure (or displeasure) of flipping a digital switch that forces another human being not to talk to me.
That said, I definitely could go for that new Professionalism feature. I’ve ridden with enough yokels that I might consider paying extra to know I am not going to get a driver who cheerily admits they’re packing a gun (that really happened to me once).