The promised addition of an in-app tipping option for Uber rolls out today in a few dozen American and Canadian cities, and will be live nationwide by the end of July. Also today, nationwide, you're going to get charged a fee every time you make a driver wait longer than two minutes for you to get in the car after they arrive.
The changes come just weeks after the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick, who had long held firm that tipping would never be a feature in the app and who had used the cashless and tip-included aspects of the service as prime selling points in the company's early days. But, as The Verge discusses today, Uber has been under massive pressure from drivers many of whom also drive for Lyft or have recently gone all-in with Uber's prime competitor given that Lyft has allowed for in-app tipping for a long while now. There has also been a great deal of bad PR for the company this year, not the least of which has been about its treatment of drivers, so there has been some public pressure to add the tipping function as well.
As Recode reports, Kalanick always felt that allowing tipping created "friction" around the transaction after a ride was over, but "There is the argument, however, the drivers will work harder to make it a good overall rider experience in order to increase the chances of getting a tip." Also, plenty of drivers have taken to posting cash boxes in their cars in order to request tips.
Those who update their apps today in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a few dozen other cities will be asked if they would like the option of tipping drivers and therefore you can say outright that you will never want to tip. Drivers, also, can choose whether or not to accept tips but what driver is going to refuse?
Then, the tipping option will come up after you leave a rating. Note that drivers won't be able to see whether you've left a tip until after they've rated you, so the tip will not influence that rating.
A look at Uber's new feature: in-app tipping. Like with Lyft, it's customizable. pic.twitter.com/LDJj7LZBkJ— The Frugal Traveler (@frugaltraveler) July 6, 2017
Tips come in preset amounts of $1, $2, or $5, or you can select a custom tip option.
Meanwhile, the "pay for wait" program, which also launches today, charges a per-minute fee for every minute you keep a driver waiting past two minutes of their arrival. As Uber lays out in their Help pages, those fees vary by city and by the size of the car, but in testing in Dallas and Phoenix they were 10 cents a minute for UberX, and went up from there. Previously, you would not be charged until you kept a driver waiting five minutes.
Both of these updates are meant to appease drivers for Uber and consumers who are critical of the low wages many drivers have reported, but both are likely to anger some consumers as well who have stuck by Uber because they both enjoy the low ride costs and the lack of tipping.
Problems originally stemmed, though, from the launch of the low-cost UberX option tipping was "baked in" to the cost of the original black-car service, which cost at least twice as much per ride, but it obviously wasn't when UberX began undercutting standard taxi fares by several dollars. Still, many consumers continued under the assumption that tips were included until drivers began speaking up, mostly loudly in 2016.
I myself admit to being hostile, until as late as last year, to the idea of having tips become part of the Uber transaction, but after a year of revelations about a $70 billion company seemingly out of control and making its billions on the backs of low-wage contractors with no benefits, I've come around.
So, as many of us expected, Uber rides won't be staying cheap forever, and you're going to have tip guilt to contend with now.
Previously: Uber Finally Adds Tips For Drivers