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Uber’s Changed Its Policy: Will You Be Tipping Your Driver?

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One of the things that makes Uber such an attractive option for travelers is its hassle-free, no-cash-necessary simplicity. (If you don’t already have an Uber account, you can sign up now to receive a free ride [up to $20] from TPG.) When you hail an Uber, you know that it’ll arrive to pick you up, you’ll get in the car and arrive safely at your destination where you’ll proceed to get out of the car without any physical transaction between driver and rider. There’s no need to rummage through your wallet, get a credit card to pay or hand over cash to tip the driver. However, the latter isn’t quite as straightforward as it once was.

Recently, the ridesharing service has changed its policy in two states — California and Massachusetts — to allow drivers to solicit tips from riders. Whereas the company didn’t previously allow its drivers to ask for tips, drivers can now post signs in their cars that say tips are appreciated. This change comes as the result of a lawsuit in the two states in which the lawyer representing Uber drivers argued that they should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. Last month, Uber and the drivers reached a settlement, and Uber conceded that drivers could put small signs in their cars that “tips are not included, they are not required, but they would be appreciated.”

So, what does this mean for riders? Other ridesharing services like Lyft allow riders to tip their driver through the app, making it easy to complete the transaction without rummaging for cash upon arriving at their destination. Uber has made it clear that it doesn’t intend on integrating an in-app tipping feature, and riders will instead have to tip with cash, eliminating one of the most appealing Uber features — its seamless, cash-free service. Uber has maintained its stance that tipping is not required, but drivers are allowed to accept tips if offered.

You may soon be given the choice of whether or not to tip your Uber driver.
You may soon be asked to tip your Uber driver.

But with the recent changes, it begs the question of if you should tip every time you ride. As everyone knows, ratings are a key component of the platform — riders and drivers rate each other following every ride. The higher your rating as a rider, the more likely you are to be picked up. So, if a rider doesn’t tip with the new policies, will that result in a lower rating? Because the driver doesn’t rate the rider until after the ride is complete and the passenger has left the car, the driver will know if they did or did not get a tip — ultimately impacting the rating they give the passenger. Other ridesharing services like Lyft with an in-app tipping feature require the driver to rate the passenger before finding out if they tipped, so a passenger’s rating will not be impacted by their decision to tip or not to tip.

I’ve used Uber more than 10 times in the past week in San Francisco and New York and not once did I come across any signs soliciting tips. Perhaps this was just because of the drivers I was riding with, but I never felt pressured to tip. My usual approach to the situation is that if the driver went above and beyond to make my ride outstanding, I’ll generally tip a few dollars — if I have cash on me, that is.

How do you feel about tipping your Uber driver? Will you think twice about using Uber if you feel pressured to tip your driver?

H/T: New York Times

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