I've been moonlighting as an Uber driver for the past 4 months now. It's my weird side gig I do and I'm by no means a veteran, but I've heard a lot of misconceptions from riders. Such as being charged more to be dropped off at bars (not true) to riders being able to tip through the app after the ride (also not true, that's Lyft). The majority of my job is driving people to where they want to go, and it also entails educating my riders on Uber policies and debunking a lot of Myths around the platform. So I've compiled the 411 on Uber & provided some helpful tips for riders:
Myths and Misconceptions
Uber Drivers can't accept tips
Uber drivers CAN accept tips. The whole point of Uber is to help get rid of the cash exchange. However, the one pitfall Uber has is that it does not include tipping in the app (unlike their competitor, Lyft). I've had many friends tell me that their Uber driver told them they can't accept tips. We'll I'm here to tell you that is simply not true, and here's the language I received directly from an Uber representative:
"Tips are not included in the cost of trips. If riders offer a cash tip, please feel free to accept."
Heads up: there are still Uber drivers out there that believe this Myth.
Surge happens whenever Uber decides
Surge pricing is what we learned in economics class: supply & demand. When there is a high demand for rides and a low supply of drivers, here enters Surge pricing. The higher the demand and the lower the supply makes Surge pricing higher.
However, with this being said, Uber has rolled out Boost promotions for Drivers which guarantees Surge pricing during certain times in certain areas. This is only available to drivers in select cities, and Chico is rarely included.
Higher fares to be dropped off at bars or hot spots
Uber fare is calculated as such: Base Fare + Miles + Time = Fare. If there is Surge, then it takes the Surge number & times it by the fare number. There is no such thing as higher fares for popular spots.
You can tip through the Uber app
I wish I could tell you this were true, but it's not. That's all Lyft and at this time they're not available everywhere Uber is (ahem -- Chico).
Tips for Riders
Provide feedback for trips less than 5-stars
Make sure to provide feedback to your drivers if your ride was anything less than 5-stars. We all want to improve and we can't improve if you don't share what we could have done to make your trip 5-stars.
Uber drivers rely on their rating because if it drops too low then Uber won't let them drive anymore. There's not much wiggle room as far as ratings go too -- anything less than 4.6 stars for drivers with over 100 trips is likely for deactivation by Uber. So that 4-star rating can actually affect the driver. I encourage you to take the time in the app to provide feedback -- it's completely anonymous!
Cash Tips are welcomed
As mentioned previously, you can't tip through the Uber app and it doesn't look like Uber will be introducing that anytime soon. It's a common complaint I hear from riders. However, if you want to tip your driver go right ahead. They might decline at first, but if you insist they will take it.
Note: If the driver says they can't accept tips -- well, they clearly haven't done their homework.
Communicate in advance with your Driver
There are certain situations you will want to contact your driver prior to their arrival to see if they can accommodate:
More than 4 riders
The Uber app isn't perfect. I heard last night how a group of riders requested an Uber XL and a small sedan arrived, which could only seat 4. Regardless, don't be shady and try to fit 5 or more people in a car that clearly only seats 4. Not only is it illegal to drive more people than a car can accommodate, it's unsafe and could cause your Uber driver to loose their job.
If you have a large item you're moving (i.e. a piano -- yes, this has happened to me), call in advance to see if your Uber driver has enough space to accommodate. Remember, a lot of Uber drivers drive small cars with only a trunk. It will save you in the long run from them arriving to only have to cancel, which you will get charged a cancellation fee if they're at your pick-up location.
Long rides (30 minutes & up)
In Chico, there are the occasional requests to Sacramento Airport. That's an hour and a half trip there, and your driver is not getting paid to drive back to Chico. This is not always true for drivers -- some cities have the capability of inputing their destination and Uber will send them trip requests for trips along their travel route. Unfortunately, this has not been rolled out to Chico or Sacramento.
Uber Drivers cannot see your destination until they pick you up. So make sure to call in advance to make sure they can and will do the trip. Again, this will save you from that cancellation fee if they arrive to your pick-up location only for you to find out they're off in 30 minutes.
If your likely to throw up, call a taxi
To all the drunkies out there: I've been there, it's rough. But an Uber is by no means the place to get sick. So be kind to the Uber drivers out there and call a taxi. If you throw up in an Uber, well you just killed business for that Uber driver because they can't drive anymore until they get it cleaned. Also, there's a hefty fine for puking or trashing an Uber.
Remember, these are peoples personal vehicles. Be kind to these drivers and do the responsible thing: call a taxi.
I feel like this is common knowledge, but I have had a freshman girl throw a temper tantrum in my backseat and I have had a guy get mad at me for telling him I do not allow food in my car (hey, it's a new car and that Jack In The Box would not smell or look good all over it). Uber Drivers have to rate every rider, and if you're just a terrible human-being or you're overly rude to your driver they may rate you low. If this happens enough, Uber will deactivate your account.
Don't make your driver wait
Uber for the Sacramento region charges 12 cents per minute -- yes, TWELVE cents. Uber drivers do not get paid well, or barely at all to wait. So make sure to be ready to go when they arrive and think twice before asking them to wait while you run into the store.
The Uber app isn't accurate and most the time I will be outside the pick-up location and the app will say I'm a minute or two away. Keep an eye on the location of the Uber driver's car in the app and when you receive the text that they're close by, head outside or wait by the door. These are the two best methods I recommend. I've heard stories from riders that drivers will also cancel the ride if the rider isn't outside when they arrive. So this helps alleviate that problem as well!
Share your Uber tips and/or stories below in the comments!
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