Online cab-hailing service Uber has introduced in-app driver tipping, after being opposed to the idea for a long time. Riders and UberEATS customers will now be able to tip from the app after a trip or delivery, as may be the case. Tipping is currently available in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston, with the company saying that it will be extended for all drivers across the US by the end of July 2017. Drivers will be allowed to cash out tips any time using Instant Pay, and Uber service fees will not be deducted from driver tips.
Uber drivers are contractors, not employees, and have been demanding in-app tipping to counter the decline in wages and incentives.
The company rolled out a few more changes, including:
Two-minute cancellation window – Drivers will receive a cancellation fee if the rider cancels after more than 2 minutes (as opposed to the earlier 5-minute window).
No unpaid wait times – Every minute the driver has to wait, after 2 minutes from arrival, will be paid for at a per minute rate.
Quest earnings eligible for Instant Pay – Drivers will be able to immediately cash out Quest earnings through Instant Pay. Quest in one of the two post-first month incentive programmes Uber has, the other being Boost. Instant Pay allows drivers to cash out up to 5 times a day.
This news comes at a time when Uber is under severe pressure and coping with a series of unexpected developments: the latest being Travis Kalanick decision to step down as CEO. He was on an extended leave of absence in any case, plus his responsibilities at the company were under review and expected to be reallocated, based on the recommendations after the internal probe.
State of Uber and Ola drivers in India
In India, drivers have been demanding better incentive structures as their earnings have started falling. The drivers say that they are not able to make their ends meet or pay EMIs for their car loans. In February this year, we saw the first instance where an Ola driver tried to kill himself by consuming poison in a strike in Bangalore. Reduced earnings was the common complaint among drivers MediaNama spoke to across Delhi-NCR region, Mumbai and Bangalore. More on this here.