Coming Soon to the Uber App: Tipping

Whether it’s at a restaurant or in a taxi, tipping has always been a pain point for consumers. Uber gets that.

In fact, part of what has made Uber the undisputed leader in ride-share services is its no-tipping policy. As recently as a year ago, the following promise was featured front and center on the company’s website: “No cash, no tip, no hassle … When you arrive at your destination, just hop out—we’ll automatically charge the credit card on file. And there’s no need to tip.”

Great for riders; less so for drivers.

Under pressure from the Independent Drivers Guild, which purports to represent the interests of New York City’s ride-share drivers, that policy may be set to change, and not just for New York.

Earlier this week, the Guild successfully petitioned the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to impose a new rule requiring Uber and other ride-share services to include a tipping option in their mobile apps. (Lyft, Uber’s primary competitor, already allows customers to add a tip to the normal fare, so the new rule is directed squarely at Uber.)

The rule, which only applies to services within New York City, will be written by July 1 and then subjected to a 90-day period of public comment. So it won’t take effect until this fall.

So far, Uber has been surprisingly accommodating about the new requirement, offering the following bland statement to media requests for comment: “Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers.” That’s disingenuous: The company has always fought tooth and nail to keep tipping out of the equation. But it’s also realistic. For better or worse, tipping is coming to Uber in New York. And once it’s included in the app, it will become the norm throughout Uber’s network.

Uber’s website has already been modified to take a more welcoming approach to tipping:

The Uber app does not include a tip when billing you for a trip fare.

In most cities, Uber is a cashless experience. Tipping is voluntary. As a rider, you are not obligated to offer your driver a gratuity in cash.

If you decide you would like to tip, your driver is welcome to accept.

Ready or not, the era of no-tip-Uber rides is coming to an end. RIP.

Reader Reality Check

Tipping for Uber rides: Yea or nay?

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.

Comments

  1. Jamie says

    I almost always tip my Uber driver and don’t have an issue with it. People don’t think twice about tipping a cab driver and I am getting a similar service with Uber but with a usually nicer and cleaner car than a taxi, usually a more pleasant driver and it’s a hell of a lot easier to page an Uber or Lyft than it is to find a taxi. The Uber driver is using his own car and it’s cheaper than a taxi.

    There have only been two times I haven’t tipped was one time in Chicago when a friend and I did Uber pool back from a gay pride event and the other rider was also at that event. The driver was making homophobic remarks on his phone to someone about an event in an area he just left. The other time was at LAX to my hotel and the driver popped the trunk and made me put my bags in the trunk and also retrieve them at my hotel. In both of those cases I wouldn’t have tipped the driver if it was a taxi or private car service either.

    I try to tip the Lyft Driver in cash since I was told by a driver once that if it’s done in the App they get taxed on it and they have to wait until the are paid by Lyft to get the tip where if I pay cash they have money right away for gas, etc. It is nice having the tipping option though if I am out and don’t have any smaller bills and don’t want to bother a server or bartender for change and I make it a point to tell the driver how much I tipped on the app so he’ll know I appreciated the ride and can rate me appropriately.

    On St. Patrick’s day I was out with a friend who doesn’t tip his Uber driver and he paged his Uber home right before I did mine and even though we were at the same restaurant and he paged a few seconds before me, my request got excepted first and I was in my Uber five minutes before his. I thought it was odd and mentioned it to the driver and he said he saw a request from the same address come through mine but that ride since it was a busy holiday he was only accepting higher rated riders and my friends rating was too low for him to accept but mine wasn’t (my friend has a 4.2 rating and mine is 4.9) He asked me if I knew if my friend tipped and when I said no but I always do he stated that was probably why my friends rating was low and mine was high. He said he usually only gives a 5 to tipping passengers so it does effect your ability in getting picked up and rated by some passengers.

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