The holiday season is here, and once again many people are plagued with the question, “Who should I tip?”
But there are some service providers many people often neglect to tip — their Uber drivers.
Business Insider recently polled more than 40 Uber and Lyft drivers, and after asking them about common misconceptions of the job, their pet peeves, and advice to passengers, a common theme emerged: Customers assume there’s no need to tip their Uber drivers, and drivers disagree.
Uber drivers say that tipping has yet to become a common convention in part because many people assume tipping is included in the cost of the ride. In fact, this was one of the most commonly cited misconceptions about the job according to the drivers we surveyed.
If you look at the language surrounding Uber, which is billed as an automated app that allows passengers to have “hassle free” trips without ever having to pull out their wallets, it’s easy to understand why this conception abounds. As the New York Times reports:
“Uber drivers have said that the company prevented them from accepting tips and led riders to believe — through statements on its website like, ‘Please thank your driver, but the tip is already included’ and ‘there is no need to tip’ — that tips are included in the price of a ride ‘when in fact tips are not included.'”
In April, Uber reached a settlement agreement with its drivers in California and Massachusetts, which, in part, stated that the ride-hailing company would change its messaging around tipping.
But because there is still no in-app tipping, drivers have had to come up with some pretty creative ways to solicit customers’ gratuity.
“I have a headrest cover with a sign that says ‘tips are not mandatory but they are appreciated,’ and I genuinely mean that,” one Uber driver in San Francisco tells Business Insider. Now, according to the proposed settlement, drivers who ask passengers for a gratuity don’t risk being “deactivated” by Uber for violating any of its policies.
And passengers are reporting they’re seeing more of these signs popping up:
Without tips, many Uber drivers say they’d struggle to make a fair living.
“Stop assuming we don’t need tips because Uber pays so well. It doesn’t,” an Uber driver tells Business Insider.
“We do not make $1,000 a week. I’m lucky to make $8 per hour,” another Uber driver says. “Sometimes it’s as low as $4 an hour, and that’s before wear and tear, gas, routine maintenance, and now regularly replacing my brakes. On a really good day, I might make $10 per hour, and there’s the very rare occasion I might make up to $25 in an hour, but that’s not per hour. We provide a service, yet you think we don’t deserve tips.”
Unlike Uber, its competitor Lyft offers in-app tipping, a big reason some drivers for both companies say they prefer Lyft. Often drivers say the difference between apps comes down to the quantity versus quality of fares.
“Uber is busier, but I make more money per ride with Lyft, because they allow the rider to tip via the app,” a driver for both companies from Tuscon tells Business Insider.
“Lyft has a tip function in their app, and they are nicer to their drivers in general. But Uber has a much larger customer base and is available in many more areas that Lyft isn’t. I’d rather drive for Lyft only, but Lyft isn’t available in the small town I currently work in,” says a driver based in San Luis Obispo, California.
Some Uber drivers go so far as to say that tips aren’t just appreciated — they’re advisable if you expect a perfect passenger rating.
“If a passenger is friendly and leaves me a tip, they get five stars. If they’re friendly but don’t leave a tip, they get four stars,” one Uber driver who drives in the San Luis Obispo, California, area tells Business Insider.
“No tip, you get four stars,” another Uber driver who drives primarily in Los Angeles says.
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