Uber drivers are about to start asking for tips.
But Uber refuses to let passengers pay the tips using its app.
Fasten your seatbelt for some awkward rides.
You may have thought that tips were included in your Uber fare. And you could be forgiven for thinking that. While Uber’s website says tips are “not needed”, that doesn’t mean they’re actually included in the fare that’s automatically charged to your credit card when you ride an Uber.
In a proposed legal settlement on Thursday, the ride-hailing company agreed to clarify the language it uses around tips. Uber clarified that there’s no policy to prohibit drivers from requesting tips from passengers or putting up signs. Drivers who ask passengers for a gratuity don’t risk being “deactivated” by Uber for violating any of its policies.
Many passengers were under the impression that they were already paying an automatic tip. And many would probably be happy to cough up a few more bucks to reward their driver for a job well done.
The problem is that, as it’s now being rolled out, the tipping process will throw a wrench into the system that makes Uber such a smooth and pleasant experience.
Messing with the magic
Most people like riding in Uber because it’s a cashless system. There’s no need to pull out the wallet, ask for change, or feel bad that you didn’t have enough singles on hand and you ended up leaving the driver a measly tip.
Indeed many people don’t even carry cash around anymore, thanks in part to services like Uber.
But Uber will not include a special button in the app for passengers to quickly add a tip to their bill, the company told Business Insider. Uber didn’t give any reason for that move.
That means you’ll need to have cash on hand when you ride an Uber if you want to leave a tip.
That’s a big inconvenience that detracts from the experience. And, when combined with Uber’s driver and passenger rating system, it could even add a new layer of uncomfortableness to your rides.
Passengers who feel uncomfortable with Uber drivers asking for a tip could rate a driver lower, potentially putting a driver’s job at risk.
And the worry goes both ways. Since drivers rate passengers, they could start rating nontippers lower than others.
Lyft, a rival ride-hailing company that lets passengers tip drivers through its app, has a system where the driver doesn’t immediately know if they have been tipped or not.
In a tipping situation like Uber’s, where physical money needs to change hands, that kind of anonymity is impossible.
The answer seems pretty obvious, and not particularly technically challenging for a company that’s working on self-driving cars.
The question is why Uber won’t incorporate tipping into its app?