New Uber feature lets you request a quiet driver who won't be chatty—but there's a catch

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

If you're the type of person who hates getting stuck with a chatty Uber driver, then the ride-sharing start-up is finally offering an option that should allow you to enjoy your next ride in peace.

On Wednesday, Uber is rolling out upgrades to its premium service, Uber Black, including one that allows riders to ask for a silent driver.

But there's a catch: That feature, which is being referred to in reports as a "quiet car" mode, is only available for Uber Black rides, which can cost two to three times as much as an UberX ride.

If you're willing to spring for Uber Black, you can set your ride preference in the Uber mobile app. Once you confirm your destination and select an Uber Black or Uber Black SUV — services that offer riders trips in luxury cars, like a BMW 5-Series or Cadillac Escalade — under the preference for "conversation," you can select either "quiet preferred," "happy to chat" or state no preference.

If you select "quiet preferred," Uber Black drivers know that you're not looking to engage in conversation for the duration of your trip. And if your driver doesn't get the memo, Uber says that Uber Black riders will also get access to "premium phone support with live agents" should you feel the need to call the company to tell them your preferences are not being honored mid-trip. (Of course, that could make for a very awkward ride.)

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Other new features rolling out for Uber Black include the ability to request help with your luggage from the driver. In the app's ride preferences page, Uber Black riders can also choose a preferred temperature for inside the car.

While you could really just tell any Uber driver that you'd like some quiet time or that you need help with your luggage, Uber Black also now offers an "extended pickup period," which gives riders five minutes to get to their Uber Black before getting charged and up to 15 minutes before the driver can cancel the ride. For other Uber rides, like Uber X or Pool, riders only have two minutes to cancel a ride before they are charged with a cancellation fee.

The new Uber Black features debuting on Wednesday are available in 35 cities in the U.S. and Canada, while Uber says it plans to expand the features to more cities "soon."

Meanwhile, social media users were already responding to the news of Uber Black's new "quiet preferred" option on Wednesday. While some people have already expressed happiness at the idea of an option to request a conversation-free Uber ride (one person called the feature "long overdue"), some others said they either "wouldn't want" a quiet mode or they feel the feature could "dehumanize" drivers.



And, one Twitter user on Wednesday even tweeted about her experience trying out Uber Black's new "quiet" option (which she described using the "praise hands" emoji), and she noted that she and the driver, in fact, sat in silence after some initial greetings (though she notes he did spend time texting).


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