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.