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8 signs consumer pricing will never be the same again

The Uber driver app on the windshield of UberX driver Regan Rucker indicates surge pricing during peak ridership in Washington, D.C.

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Pricing power — to the people?

Controversial ridesharing company Uber has become infamous for its surge pricing — a term it is trying to patent.

Surge pricing is the practice of aggressively increasing rates based on short-term spikes in demand. But dynamic pricing has been around for decades, especially in the airline and hotel industry.

Lodging start-up Airbnb is implementing a new model designed to help hosts price their offerings based upon demand for certain dates, location, local pricing, availability and more. Hotels, meet your match.

And multibillion-dollar start-ups are far from alone in testing the limits of pricing power — powered by technology. Consumer giants like Amazon use algorithms to tweak pricing — sometimes to the buyer's advantage — as sellers compete over your business. Dynamic pricing is showing up in more of the purchases that make our daily lives easier and more fulfilling. The more you know, the better a consumer you will become in this brave new world of pricing algorithms.

Here are some examples.

By Michael Sheetz, special to
Posted 20 November 2015

Evelyn Hockstein | The Washington Post | Getty Images