Here's How Uber's Tipping Policy Puts Drivers At A Disadvantage

Uber driverLucy Nicholson/ReutersLimousine driver Shuki Zanna, 49, holds up his iPhone displaying transportation app Uber as he waits for customers in Beverly Hills, California, December 19, 2013.

Uber drivers have told us that they’re not making anywhere near the $US90,000 Uber says they could be making.
They’re upset. Some say they aren’t even making minimum wage.

One way Uber could easily help solve this problem for its drivers is by allowing them to collect tips.

Currently, when you use Uber’s app, there’s no option to add a tip.

“Being Uber means there is no need to tip drivers with any of our services,” Uber says in a blog post. This does not mean your Uber driver is receiving a tip, necessarily.

Your Uber fare includes a 20% tip when you take UberTAXI, a partnership between Uber and existing taxi services. But if you’re riding in an UberX, UberBlack, or UberSUV vehicle, there’s no way to include a tip for your driver.

Lyft, one of Uber’s rivals, lets you tip through its app. And for some, it’s common courtesy to include a tip when you take a cab.

This summer, Uber cut the price of an UberX ride by 20%, which drivers have protested because they’re not making as much. Uber says that the low fares would increase demand, so drivers could recoup those losses.

Some drivers feel that having an option to include tips could make up for UberX’s low fares.

“Even with the higher commission and lower fare, if the tips were back on the table, drivers feel they may be able to earn a livable wage,” Joseph De Wolf Sandoval, an Uber driver and president of the California App-Based Drivers Association, a nonprofit that was the driving force behind a recent country-wide Uber drivers protest, told us.

Business Insider has reached out to Uber for comment on its tipping practice, or lack thereof. The company pointed us to a section of its website called “Do I Have To Tip My Driver?,” which says:

Being Uber means there is no need to tip drivers with any of our services.

When using uberTAXI (requesting a ride from a cab via the Uber app, available in select cities), drivers will input the metered fare into the Uber driver application. A default 20% of the metered fare will be automatically added and paid to the driver as a gratuity. You can select the percentage amount of the gratuity by signing into your account at then clicking the ‘Payment’ link at the top.

Late last year, a federal judge ruled that drivers could sue Uber for deceptive marketing that told its passengers that Uber’s fares included a tip, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Uber’s marketing initially said ‘The tip is included in the fare,’ and that was absolutely not the case,” De Wolf Sandoval told us. “The fare has always been the calculation of the distance and the time and the base fare and any surcharges and any tolls.

“And never has there been, in UberBLACK, UberSUV or UberX’s platforms, a calculation for the tip. And it’s impermissible, from a labour standpoint, for management to take a percentage of tips. And surprisingly, Uber tried to get away with it anyway by saying ‘The tip is included in the fare’ — but that would also mean they’re taking a percentage of the tip, if they’re taking 20% off the fare.”

Some drivers we spoke to say they have had customers who want to tip, but can’t do it through the app.

“If a rider absolutely insists on providing an additional cash tip, drivers are of course free to accept it,” an Uber spokesperson told Business Insider last month.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.