In promoting themselves as a convenient and cheap alternative to taxi cabs, Uber has often discouraged tipping by emphasizing that tips are already included in the fare. When I began using Uber, I assumed the drivers were well compensated. However, when the company began advertising its services as being cheaper than taxi cabs, I looked into this further and discovered that most UberX drivers earn $16 – $30 per hour – that’s before expenses are factored in. I’ve read other accounts of drivers working hard and coming away with nothing more than minimum wage.
It’s baffling that Uber would discourage leaving tips when some drivers are pulling in minimum wage. What’s more, Uber offers passengers the option to add tips for Taxi services but not for UberX drivers, which I think is really unfair – especially since Uber competitor Lyft does offer passengers the option to add a tip. After reading more about some of the issues drivers deal with, I’ve decided UberX drivers should be tipped. Here are five reasons why:
1. UberX drivers don’t earn very much. At $16 – $30 per hour UberX drivers apparently earn less than taxi cab drivers. However, that rate can go as low as $3.99 per hour when you take into account insurance costs, gas and vehicle maintenance. Factor in income taxes and drivers are left with even less of a profit. I would include Uber drivers on the lower end of the above mentioned hourly range in the tipping category, since restaurant waiters and housekeeping staff earn the same amount and generally expect to be tipped.
2. Uber takes a hefty cut of divers’ earnings. Uber takes a 20 – 28% cut of each fare, a percentage that varies depending on which type of Uber service you’re requesting. With fares already being lower than cabs and some drivers earning the equivalent of minimum wage, that 20-28% cut can really eat into their earnings. Adding a few extra commission-free dollars cash can make a difference in the drivers’ bottom line. Let’s not forget, it’s their willingness to provide their services at a discounted rate that makes it possible for us to have access to such a vast network of cheap and convenient transportation options worldwide.
3. Uber drivers are not reimbursed for gas or vehicle maintenance. Gas prices are low at the moment, but I imagine driving people around all day can translate to high gas bills and car maintenance expenses. Uber does not provide drivers with any kind of car maintenance stipend and those of us who have ever commuted to work know how quickly those expenses can add up. Plus, some drivers buy newer model cars for the sole purpose of driving for Uber and that investment doesn’t always pan out well when you’re earning $16 per hour.
4. For some drivers, it’s their full time job. Despite the low income most UberX drivers generate, for some it’s their only viable employment option and they pursue it full time. Yes, there are people who do this as a side job and don’t mind the small profit margins. However, for those who work full time, I imagine it’s tough doing it without any benefits. Even minimum wage workers get healthcare benefits when they work full time. Not the case for UberX drivers.
5. It’s not an easy job. While I’m sure Uber drivers spend a lot of time picking up business travelers and well-behaved tourists, they also get their fair share of late night bar hoppers and rowdy college students. I imagine the mix of passengers is the same as on an airplane but in a much more confined space. I’ve had drivers tell me of atrocious behavior they had to tolerate from passengers to maintain a high rating with Uber. One Los Angeles UberX driver told me about a woman he picked up at the Beverly Center who kept him waiting outside for 15 minutes (she instructed him not to park his car because she was “almost there”), then had him take her to a CVS and wait in the parking lot for 20 minutes with the meter off. Any time you have to deal with a lot of people, you are sure to come across a fair number of a**holes and nothing eases the hassle like a cash tip.
The appeal of Uber has always been convenience: The ability to request a ride easily through your phone, cheap fares, and the fact that it’s cash-free. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to pay a little extra for these conveniences if it means drivers are well compensated. I have yet to have a negative experience with UberX and will continue to use the service, but if they’re not willing to allow passengers to leave a tip through the app, I’ll gladly use cash instead.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you tip UberX drivers?