Uber adding option to tip drivers, making other changes

Wednesday, 21 Jun, 2017

As part of a 180-day overhaul of the beleaguered multibillion-dollar company, Uber will soon open up tipping to all USA drivers who want it.

The rollout is going to be slow, starting with just three cities Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston "so we can create the best tipping experience for you and your riders", but it says that the feature will be available in all cities by the end of next month. Before he resigned, Uber's then-ridesharing president Jeff Jones continued to push the company line, telling drivers in a Q&A on Facebook in February that satisfied riders could leave a "compliment" but not a tip.

Another change will shorten the time that passengers have to cancel a trip, from 5 to 2 minutes, before riders incur a $5 cancellation fee. That sounds like a big number, but when you divide it among the hundreds of thousands of Lyft drivers it starts to look like Uber was right all along: riders would rather not be bothered with the expectation of tipping. He added, "Make no mistake, Uber only did this because members of the Independent Drivers Guild pressured regulators".

Lyft recently said it had paid out more than $250m in tips to its drivers.

Drivers for UberEATS, the company's food delivery service, will also be allowed to accept tips for their services.

Uber is in dire need of some good karma in wake of a series of scandals.

Uber's pivot comes exactly one week after Travis Kalanick said he would take an indefinite leave of absence from his role as chief executive. Over the next 180 days, the company says it will introduce new improvements to help its drivers. In New York City, ridership has grown, but Uber's growth rate is slowing when compared with Lyft. According to the latest edition of Emily Post's Etiquette, "a tip to a taxi driver is generally about 15 to 20% of the fare, with a minimum of $1; round up any small amounts of change".

"I believe that our business can have 10x the impact it has today - once we have additional leadership and training in place, and evolve our culture to be more inclusive and respectful", he said. Riders can add a tip up to 30 days after their trip, and drivers can cash out their tips at any time using Instant Pay.

Uber's effort to deny tips, she said, has "been nothing short of mean-spirited to its workers in an attempt to pad its own bottom line". As users may have noticed, the previously mandatory-seeming rating screen, for riders rating drivers, is now optional and pushed to the bottom of the screen when you open the app for your next ride.